Health, Meaning of Life

The COVID-19 patient who made the news: 19 days in the isolation ward, but all I felt was peace

By Gracia Chiang , 30 April 2020

29-year-old HK Ng from Grace Assembly of God (Case 74) first made local headlines because of his surprising gesture towards fellow patients infected by the coronavirus. 

He tells Stories of Hope why his 19 days in the isolation ward were life-changing, and why he felt moved to send a sunflower and open letter to encourage those going through the same plight.

On February 12, I started to have a slight fever and learnt that the church I was worshipping at had a confirmed case of COVID-19. I went to the hospital, and the doctors advised me to rest at home and continue with self-isolation.

On the day I returned to the hospital for the swab test, I woke up and Psalm 23:4 came to mind.

Meditating on it while walking to the hospital, I still felt that there was an extremely low possibility that I would be infected.

“Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”

The storm was not in me

The next day, I saw the fear in the eyes of the three doctors who entered my ward to announce the results of my test. They were afraid that I would break down.

I didn’t, but I had trouble sleeping on the first night in the isolation ward. After tossing around for seven hours, I read Psalm 91:14-16.

“Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble. I will deliver him and honour him. With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.” 

I realised that I had to surrender my fear of death and suffering (such as waking up in the middle of the night feeling breathless and being tubed through my nose). Through my tears, I told God that I was willing to put my life into His Hands.

“If it’s possible, let me survive this. But if it’s really Your will that I don’t, let my physical pain be minimal,” I prayed, feeling mentally prepared to see Him if I should die.

From that moment, I felt free. My insecurities were gone, and I remained very positive throughout my 19 days in isolation.

Every day inside the isolation ward was an opportunity to experience God. 

The doctors, nurses, healthcare workers and I were constantly encouraging each other with notes we would paste on the glass panel that separated us. I even decorated the room with flowers, fruit and snack boxes that I received, and was using a cardboard box as my exercise mat!

During one of my daily worship sessions, I thought about the less-fortunate patients like migrant workers who had caught the virus. Not only did they have fewer resources – their family might not even have the means to contact them.

It was then I decided to pen a letter to encourage them. To my surprise, the healthcare workers who read it told me it encouraged them as well!


HK, 29, also requested for hospital staff to help with translating the letter into Chinese, Malay, Tamil and Bengali – and to arrange for a sunflower to be sent together with each letter.

When I was discharged, the doctors were worried about my mental condition as I had been isolated for almost 20 days. But the truth is, it was the peace and grace of God that kept me going every day in the isolation ward.

Was I happy to be discharged? Yes and no. No because I worried that my experience with God would come to an end.

I didn’t want the peace to end

Even after I went home, I realised that this peace didn’t leave me. 

This was a peace that I previously searched for in money, relationships, alcohol, debauchery, physical exercise and loved ones before I came to know Christ again last year after 10 years of being away from church.

Coming back to church under the encouragement of my brothers, I was surprised that my relationship with God was not like before. Unlike my younger days when I was a Christian, I realised I no longer saw God as a “cosmic Kleenex” or an “ATM” that I would run to when I needed to get something or feel good.

I stopped worshipping God based on what He could give or bless me with. Instead, I started worshipping Him simply because He is God. 

I’ve experienced His love in so many ways. At times, it causes my tears to flow – but it isn’t because I’m sad. In fact, that amazing feeling is indescribable! I feel like I’ve finally awakened to my identity in Christ as a child of God.

I also experienced things that I never imagined could happen. For instance, the pain of my failed eight-year relationship was gone in just three months. I even requested to meet up with my ex-girlfriend to tell her I forgave her and asked for her forgiveness!


The last few months have taught me how to let go of many things, including my fear of suffering and death. 

Someone asked if I was fearful of catching the virus again. My answer is yes, but I’ve also come to learn that it’s how we deal with our emotions that matters most.

In fact, knowing that I could possibly get infected with the virus again makes me thankful because I know that I’m living by His grace every day. 

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 

That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)

This is an excerpt of an article that was first published on

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