Singapore—One of the things the world is learning about the novel coronavirus that has gone on to infect people in 177 countries all over the world is that the disease, Covid-19, presents itself differently in different people. Additionally, people’s recovery experiences are quite different as well. Some recover quickly, have two successive negative tests, and are discharged from hospital. Others feel better after a few days, but continue to shed the virus and must remain in isolation.

One patient in Singapore got sick while overseas, tested positive for the coronavirus, then got better to the point of becoming symptom-free, but continued to test positive for Covid-19 over five weeks after feeling better.

Charles Pignal, who is French but lives in Singapore, documented his coronavirus experience on his Instagram account, which he usually uses for reviewing books. Mr Pignal is the great-grandson of the founder of shoe brand Bata.

According to his Instagram account, he believes he was infected early last month during a trip to London. He flew home to Singapore in early March and was the passenger who tested positive on a Turkish Airlines flight that had to be flown back to Istanbul empty, as its crew and passengers needed to be placed under quarantine after Mr Pignal’s confirmed diagnosis. He is Case 113 on the MOH website.

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On March 7, In his first video on Instagram where he talks about having fallen ill, he apologized to Turkish Airlines and its crew for this.

By his next video the following day, Mr Pignal said he was feeling absolutely fine and no longer had symptoms of Covid-19.

Mr Pignal, who was admitted to the NCID, said that the symptoms he had experienced were “headaches, mild fever, a slight (dry) cough and generally feeling weak.”

On  March 10 he was feeling upbeat, writing, “We’re definitely at the tail-end of this thing. Im feeling absolutely fine, but I’m still testing positive on my daily nose swabs and they won’t let me leave until I test negative twice in a row…. it’s just a waiting game now.”

By March 15, he was no longer getting any medication, “except tea”. He was feeling fine, and yet, as he wrote, “The Brain Tickler: Everyday I get a little rod right up to the top of my nose (both nostrils) to detect the coronavirus. And every day, the previous day’s test comes back positive.”

On March 19 he said in his video update that he had been told that the fitter patients are, the longer the virus stays in their bodies. And so, while he said he felt great, he did not know when he could go home.

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To pass the time while he was waiting to be discharged, Mr Pignal gave interviews about his case, and answered people’s questions about the disease.

On March 24, day 20 for him, he still tested positive. However, on the same day, his roommate tested negative and was possibly going home. He also said that he was being moved to another facility to make room for people who were more ill. He was unhappy that at the new facility patients would only be tested twice a week, as opposed to daily, which would possibly extend his stay.

By Day 23 (Mar 26), Mr Pignal finally tested negative for the virus. All he needed at that point was one more negative test and he would get the all-clear to come home, although he had been warned by his doctors that there was a 50 percent chance he could test negative again.

On the same day, he received another positive test result.

By March 28 he was still testing positive, but he was moved to “The Resort,” as he called it. And while he appreciated the accommodations there, he said that he was longing to come home to his fiancee.

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To pass the time, he continued to do online book reviews. He wrote, “I FINALLY finish the Densest Book of All Times” and talked about Fyodor Dostoevsky’s Brothers Karamazov.  At this point, Mr Pignal was being tested every four days, and if he tested negative, he would be given another test the following day to determine if he could go home.

On April 8 he reported that he had yet another false negative on the 35th day of his isolation. He had gotten one negative test, followed by a positive one, and called his experience a lesson in humility and patience.

Finally, on April 12, Mr Pignal said he was coming home. He had gotten two successive negative tests for Covid-19. He thanked his viewers and followers online, saying he would take a break at that point from the coronavirus updates, to make room for more relevant voices to do so, although he would continue with his book reviews. —/TISG

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