NTU student tests positive for Covid-19 after recall from UK

Miss Sejal Bagaria at Changi Airport, waiting to be taken to the National Centre for Infectious Diseases.
Sejal Bagaria

When she returned to Singapore at 2pm on March 21, Miss Sejal Bagaria felt a dry cough developing.

She and a friend, who also felt unwell, wanted to get screened at Changi Airport.

"We had symptoms and we wanted to get tested. It was the socially responsible thing to do," the Nanyang Technological University (NTU) student told The New Paper in a telephone interview yesterday.

Miss Bagaria was one of the students recalled from exchange programmes overseas. She had been at the University of Sussex for her exchange programme since Jan 21.

At the airport, a doctor assessed her symptoms and said she has to be taken to the hospital for further tests.

She was not allowed to leave.

But it was not until midnight that she and her friend were taken by an ambulance to the National Centre of Infectious Diseases (NCID).

Miss Bagaria, a year two student at the Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information, said: "By night time, I felt even more sick. I had a dry cough and shortness of breath and I knew something was wrong."

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Things moved along quickly in NCID where she was screened, and her parents picked her up at 3am.

By noon the following day, she got a phone call informing her that she had tested positive for Covid-19.

Her friend tested negative.

Her father, Mr Sunil Kumar Bagaria, 52, who is now under a quarantine order, told TNP: "I can't begin to tell you how shattering it was to hear. But the silver lining is we got to see her, never mind the quarantine order.

"If she had been hospitalised right away, it would have been harder for her to accept what was happening."

Miss Bagaria packed a laptop, books and clothes before an ambulance came within an hour.

She said: "I couldn't believe it was happening. All of us think we are young and invincible and that it wouldn't happen to us."

Miss Bagaria decided to share her experience on social media the same day, and hoped to remind others about social responsibility.

She said: "There's no point hiding it and it's better to spread awareness about social responsibility and positivity. If we all do our part, this virus can blow over."

In an e-mail circular seen by TNP, NTU informed students yesterday that a faculty member and two students tested positive for Covid-19 after returning from the US and the UK.

The faculty member has not been on campus since early this month and the two students since last month, it said.

"NTU staff are in touch with them, and the university will provide them with the necessary assistance and support," the e-mail said.

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This article was first published in The New Paper. Permission required for reproduction.

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