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Sars survivor ready to fight Ebola

READY: Ms Ashirdahwani Asmawi (in white) with her husband, their children, and her mother. PHOTO: MY PAPER FILE

She was the nurse managing Singapore's first Sars patient and her mother.

She may have caught the Sars bug and almost paid with her life, but she is ready to battle again if the Ebola virus lands here.

Tan Tock Seng Hospital's Senior Staff Nurse Ashirdahwani Asmawi told TNP that when Sars hit, no one knew what it was.

"We did not take the necessary precautions. There was no PPE (personal protective equipment) issued. Some of the nurses already had the symptoms, but they didn't know what it was," she said.

This time, Ms Ashirdahwani, 35, feels it is different.

"We are very much prepared for the onslaught... I don't think there will be panic as we will be better protected to deal with human excrement with additional protection on top of the PPE," said the clinical director.

During Sars, she was quarantined for almost a month.

For Ebola, Ms Ashirdahwani said they will have to put on two layers of gowns and gloves, "made from thicker material".

"We are also given a visor mask to protect our faces and boots to wear.".

It was a lonely month when she was a patient and isolated with hardly any human contact.

Speaking from a patient's point of view, she said: "All a patient needs is assurance. I also learnt never to say 'I know how you feel' to any patient.

"You don't know what they are going through until you are a patient undergoing the same infection yourself," she said.