Dr Daphne Ai Lin TEH
MBBS (Manipal), MsOphthal (UM)

Medical Specialities: Ophthalmology, Hospital Tengku Ampuan Rahimah
Location: Setia Alam, Selangor, Malaysia

Article By
Dr Daphne Ai Lin TEH

Dr Wu Lien-Teh is Daphne Teh's third great uncle.


It was early March 2020. A newly discovered virus, the Covid-19, was beginning to extend globally. In just a matter of weeks, cases soared to more than 200 and a large potential cluster involving 14500 Malaysians was discovered. Still, Malaysians remained unafraid. They opposed school closures and condemned the possibility of a lockdown. Castigating anyone who dared suggest that Covid-19 was anything more than just a common flu bug. The circumstances gave me some insight into the challenges my great grand uncle, Dr Wu Lien Teh had experienced in 1910 when he discovered the pneumonic plague epidemic in China. He emphasized the importance of wearing masks which he fashioned out of gauze and layers of cotton, but his idea was not readily accepted by his scientific peers who were convinced that plague could only be transmitted by fleas or rats.

In this modern day pandemic, Ophthalmologists and ENT doctors were found to have higher rates of infection compared to other specialities due to close contact with patients during consultation. We geared up with protective equipment and installed self-made protective screens on our equipment. New protocols were created to improve waiting time and reduce crowding, social distancing methods were enforced and technology was utilized by sending prescriptions and referral letters to patients virtually.

As the numbers climbed, it became clear that this virus was not to be underestimated. When the peak of the Pandemic arrived, I became increasingly restless and found myself volunteering to be on the frontline. This was not a frivolously made decision. The risk involved is high and it would mean being away from my 3 children, my youngest only two years old. I have yet to be called to serve, but when the time comes, I can only hope to channel the courage and dedication my great grand uncle portrayed when he faced the pandemic of his time.

I wish it did not take a pandemic to make the world pause and re-examine its priorities. I wish we did not have to lose so many lives to sheer ignorance and conspiracy theories in this day and age where information is at our fingertips. I wish politics did not influence the decision making of leaders who affect the lives of so many. I wish people realised that the fate mankind lies in their hands and each and every person can save the world by doing their part in stopping the spread of this disease.

The more I learn about my great grand uncle, I find myself wondering if I have contributed my best self to my profession and my community. His great legacy drives me to persevere in the face of adversity, to aim higher and dream bigger. Because he has shown us all, how one person can make a difference.


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