Silat fighter Atiq Syazwani Roslan joins battle against Covid-19
Two-time SEA Games medallist Atiq, a physiotherapist, volunteers to be healthcare assistant at coronavirus cluster
As a national silat exponent, Atiq Syazwani Roslan has long learnt to overcome fear when she takes on stronger opponents.
That valiant spirit is serving the 26-year-old well as she joins the biggest battle on the medical frontline - the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic.
When the call came for healthcare professionals to volunteer in the war against the coronavirus, Atiq, a physiotherapist at Tan Tock Seng Hospital, promptly signed up.
The decision was an easy one, despite it being outside her profession.
Since the virus outbreak, she had been mulling over ways to contribute in the fight against the invisible enemy, and when the opportunity arrived, she did not have to think twice.
Since last month, she has been deployed at Woodlands Lodge 1, one of the foreign worker dormitories that has become a Covid-19 cluster with 353 confirmed cases.
Atiq was well aware of the lifestyle changes and sacrifices that came with this stint, but that was not enough to put off the two-time SEA Games medallist.
She told The New Paper: "I knew that I would have to be physically distant from my family and be close to suspected cases of Covid-19.
"Then I thought, 'Why not?' and that any fear should not stop me from helping the community."
Having been in the national silat set-up for 12 years, Atiq is used to handling pressure and working tirelessly.
However, she described a day's work at the dormitory to be like "running a full marathon - twice".
As a healthcare assistant, she is tasked to conduct mass screenings every morning, assist doctors, register and monitor patients, update information daily and perform swab tests at the dormitory, which houses about 1,000 migrant workers.
She found her first three days the most challenging, as being in full protective gear would leave her drenched in sweat from head to toe.
Despite adapting quickly to the demands of the job, the next challenge soon came during the fasting month of Ramadan, which started on April 24, a week after she began her stint.
"It can be uncomfortable… and I find myself panting at the end of the day because it's difficult to breathe. It becomes more challenging when I can't eat or drink during the day," she said, adding that she has lost about 2kg since starting work at the dormitory.
"I also have to be distant from my parents; I can't hug or kiss them… nor share meals together."
She also initially felt paranoid about contracting the virus and would clean her hands excessively and shower multiple times a day, as "the fear would keep echoing" in her head.
"Day by day, I realised the prevention controls in place made me feel less worried about getting infected... it makes it safe for us healthcare workers."
What she has gained, though, is the eye-opening and humbling experience of learning from the doctors and nurses from different clusters.
Said Atiq: "Everyone has been working hard to beat this virus and I'm proud to be part of the fight."
Her dedication has impressed Speaker of Parliament and Singapore National Olympic Council president Tan Chuan-Jin, who mentioned her on his Facebook page.
Atiq also left a mark on Alex Chua, the leader of the dormitory's forward assurance and support team, which comprises officers from the Singapore Armed Forces, police and Manpower Ministry.
He said in a Facebook post last weekend: "I was most impressed with her dedication and passion in her efforts to cover as many patients as the medical post could take each day."
Besides balancing five shifts a week, Atiq also squeezes in at least 30 minutes of silat training at home daily.
"If I rest for a day, I think about how my opponents are training harder than me," said Atiq, who won a bronze and a silver in sparring for the 45-50kg category at the 2019 and 2017 SEA Games respectively.
Singapore Silat Federation chief executive Sheik Alau'ddin is proud of Atiq.
He said: "She is able to contribute not only with medals, but also as a frontliner fighting the virus. I strongly support her and other frontliners."
Believing that Singapore has sound strategies to overcome the virus, Atiq added that it takes a team effort to conquer Covid-19.
"Regardless of one's job scope, everyone can play a part," she said.