In terms of health, December 2021 was probably the single worst month of my entire life.
First, I learned that I had diabetes. While it wasn’t entirely unexpected considering my family’s history, it was still a major blow for me.
“You need to be more careful about what you eat,” my doctor warned. “No more fast food, no more ice cream, no more sugary drinks…”
It was a real pain, but what else could I do but agree? After all, diabetes is a serious issue!
So naturally, when I woke up one night with really bad nausea, the first thing on my mind was “Huh, is this also part of diabetes?“
After throwing up a couple of times, I crawled back to bed hoping that I’d feel better in the morning. Unfortunately, I woke up feeling much worse. I had a fever, I was coughing, the nausea was back, all that jazz. It was around this time when I realised that this was probably more than just diabetes.
After using a home test, I discovered I was COVID-19 positive.
Do I Really Have to Go To The Quarantine Centre?
Like most people, I really didn’t like the idea of going to the quarantine centre. I was young, I was healthy. Surely I could just do self quarantine at home, right?
Unfortunately, it turns out that having diabetes immediately puts you on the “high-risk” list.
As such, on 21 December 2021, I was told to pack my bags and prepare to be taken to the MAEPS Quarantine Centre in Serdang. It was all a bit last minute, so I had to rush to pack everything in order to get ready in time.
What To Bring?
If you’ve never been to a quarantine centre before, here are some of the essentials that you’ll need to bring:
- Clothing (enough for around a week or two)
- Towel (trust me, you do NOT want to be sharing a towel here)
- Toiletries (toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo, sanitary pads, etc.)
- Laptop, phone and chargers (the wifi isn’t that good, but at least you can watch Youtube)
- Snacks (sadly, you can’t order GrabFood delivery while you’re there)
- Any necessary medications (make sure to inform the frontliners when you check in so that they can get you a refill if anything runs out)
Of course, these are all important. But having been through the experience myself, I’d like to add a few more items to this list:
1) Power Bank
Let me put it to you this way: in my hall, we had about two hundred people and only two places where we could charge our phones. Everyone was trying to be patient, but if you didn’t have a powerbank of some kind, your ability to use your phone would be very limited.
Board games, card games, phone games… you name it, people were playing it. There’s not that much to do, really, so a lot of the quarantine patients were bored. One night, we even started an impromptu Mobile Legends tournament! We… kind of sucked, honestly. But it’s the thought that counts, right?
Of course, not everyone is into mobile games (or able to, considering the charger situation), so it’s good to have other options too.
If you’re not in the mood to socialise, having a good book (or two, or three) is a great alternative. I threw a copy of “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets” in my bag on a whim and ended up rereading it two or three times just to have something to do.
I got to say, reading that book as an adult is very different compared to reading it as a child.
Am I the only one who thought that Ron was an idiot for stealing the flying car to travel to Hogwarts instead of just… waiting five minutes for his parents to come back?
4) Warm Sweater
Or any warm clothing in general. The thing is, the air conditioner is going to be on 24/7. It’s nice at first, but it can get real chilly in there — especially since the blankets are kind of thin. Having a comfy pair of pyjamas can make a big difference.
5) Eye Masks
Unfortunately, the aircon isn’t the only thing that’s kept on 24/7. They keep the lights turned on all the time, which made it almost impossible for me to fall asleep.
Even worse, there are loudspeaker announcements happening throughout the day to call individual patients in to see the doctor, take blood tests and so on, so you can’t even take a nap in peace!
An Average Day in the Quarantine Centre
Despite my worst fears, my stay at the quarantine centre was actually fairly comfortable. I wouldn’t want to repeat it ever again, of course, but it was nowhere near as horrifying as I’d originally expected.
Here’s what the general routine was like:
- 8am: breakfast delivered
- 9am: exit for those who’re leaving
- 12pm: lunch delivered
- 6pm: dinner delivered
- 7pm: discharge letters handed out for those who’re leaving the next morning
“But wait,” you might ask. “Aren’t you forgetting a few things?”
The answer is no, not really. Despite all the horror stories flying around about having specific times to wake up, sleep, use the toilet, etc., the truth is that outside of of things like the doctor’s rounds and patient entry/leaving, there is no official routine.
The food will arrive at the same time every day and sometimes your name might be called to do a blood test or something else, but as a patient you’re basically free to do whatever you want for about 99% of the day.
Special Note about the food:
When checking in, be sure to inform the doctors of any special health or diet needs. They’ll provide you with the appropriate food.
Since I’m diabetic, I had special diabetic dishes (basically less sugar, less rice, etc.), but I did get a chance to try some of the normal food on my first day.
Surprisingly enough, it all tasted fine — good, even! But after a week of enforced healthy meals, I was really starting to miss my normal food. By the end of it, I was craving KFC so bad that I even started dreaming about fried chicken in my sleep!
Ready to Go Home?
As nice as the quarantine centre is, everyone is excited when they finally get to go home. You get your discharge papers the day before, so all you need to do is wake up early the next morning so that you can pack everything away.
Before you leave, don’t forget to double check and make sure that you’ve packed absolutely everything. The last thing you want is to leave something important behind!
Aside from that, the most important thing you need to remember is to arrange your own transport home.
Just Get Your Mum To Pick You Up
Here’s what happened: when my group left the centre, we all boarded the bus, eager and ready to get home… only to be confused when we were dropped off at the entrance of MAEPS less than five minutes later.
There, we were told that anyone who wasn’t being picked up by a friend or relative would be driven home by a company called MyCar.
“Don’t worry boss, we’ll take you home!” the agent said cheerfully. “First, you just need to download our app…”
It was… well, it was a ride-sharing thing. Like Grab or Uber (does anyone here still remember Uber?), only more annoying. First, I learned that going home would cost RM62 — and there was no warning about this beforehand, so I was understandably strapped for cash.
Then, I learned that the driver only accepted cash payments (despite the agent telling me repeatedly that I could just pay via bank transfer).
When I told him that I didn’t have that much cash on me, he decided to make a detour. The guy literally brought me to a bank and told me to withdraw the money from an ATM!
Seriously, if you’re ever leaving a quarantine centre, don’t make the same mistake I did. Just ask your mum to pick you up or something.
The Quarantine Centre Isn’t As Bad As You Might Think, But…
Despite being surprisingly comfortable, the quarantine centre still isn’t the kind of place that you’ll want to visit in person.
As such, it’s important for us all to stay vigilant and do our part to stop the spread of COVID-19. With all the new Omicron clusters popping up, more and more people are getting infected each day. By working together and following SOPs, we protect not just ourselves but everyone around us.
If you’re interested in learning more about what COVID-19 quarantine is like in general, be sure to check out: