S’pore NCID Director Warns That Coronavirus Infection May Begin With Mild Sickness First Before Worsening

Week-Long Mild Sickness May Precede Coronavirus Infection, Including Cough, Sore Throat, Or Fever

Professor Leo Yee Sin, executive director of Singapore’s National Centre for Infectious Diseases (NCID), has explained that a coronavirus infection may begin with a bout of mild illness before worsening.

He revealed the information at a press conference yesterday (10 Feb), which The Straits Times (ST) has reported.


Past patients have complained of experiencing a cough, sore throats, mild fevers, and fatigue prior to symptoms worsening. As Professor Leo noted, thousands of Singaporeans experience these symptoms every day.

This is in part what makes it so difficult to identify coronavirus patients with no ties to mainland China.

Sick for a week or more

The first six Singaporean patients to recover were afflicted with these seemingly harmless symptoms for about a week before the virus spread to their lungs. However, because we know so little about the virus, it isn’t clear why some patients experience this.


Professor Tan Chorh Chuan, chief health scientist at the Ministry of Health, told ST:

In today’s environment, be prudent. If you are feeling febrile, it’s better to stay at home.

Professors Leo and Tan also both noted the varying range of responses to the virus beyond just initial symptoms. Based on global statistics, those most at risk seem to be the elderly, people with underlying health problems, and those with weaker immune systems.

Intensive care for some

As of Monday (10 Feb), 7 patients in Singapore were in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). In some cases, the coronavirus may cause a number of harmful effects that necessitate more vigorous care measures.

Coronavirus ICUSource

For example, the virus can affect lung function such that the lungs stop working, causing the patient to require mechanical assistance. Kidney failure may also occur as a result of the body’s immune response to the virus. We have yet to see any such occurrences here however, Prof Leo noted.


However, we are pleased to report that there is still hope. Another patient was discharged from hospital yesterday (10 Feb), meaning a total of 7 have recovered from the virus.

Despite fears surrounding the coronavirus infection, hope for recovery is still strong, so don’t be afraid. Practice good personal hygiene, and make sure you see the doctor if you feel unwell.

Featured image adapted from Eu Yan Sang.

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