Mr Afiq Ashraf Ra’im, an Emergency Response Team operator with the Singapore Police Force (SPF), wanted to hold his wife’s hand or hug her.
But he could not because the couple had to shower first before having any physical contact.
Mr Afiq, 30, told The Straits Times how he and his wife, Ms Khairunnisa Suwarno, 32, a senior staff nurse at Khoo Teck Puat Hospital, coped.
“She would be really exhausted from her shift…” he recalled. “It pains me to see her cry. I try to be strong for her, treat her well and listen to her worries and frustrations,” he said.
The married couple of two years, who do not have children, have rarely seen each other in the past year as Mr Afiq works at the counter-terrorist arm of the SPF, where officers can work shifts of up to 12 hours.
Ms Khairunnisa works various shifts to plan the care for patients and assist those who are unable to carry out their daily activities due to health issues.
When the Covid-19 outbreak worsened last April, Mr Afiq was deployed to handle operations at migrant worker dormitories while Ms Khairunnisa assisted at the hospital’s intensive care unit.
Their long and irregular hours meant that they could not even go grocery shopping together.
And even though she works in a hospital, where there is the risk of medical staff catching the coronavirus, Ms Khairunnisa worries about her husband getting infected instead.
“As a nurse, I am well equipped with all the medical equipment in the ward and already know what the patients in the hospital are suffering from. My husband is out there on the ground meeting people with unknown medical backgrounds or histories.”
To cope, the couple pray daily for each other’s safety and send caring messages reminding each other to stay safe.
Mr Afiq said: “Sometimes, she will cook dinner for me. That alone will be my strength to carry on as I look forward to spending time with her when I’m home.”
Like Mr Afiq and Ms Khairunnisa, frontlines couples such as Dr Tay Jun Yang and Dr Elaine Low, and Ms Siti Adhawiyah Mohamed Ali and her husband, Mr Muhammad Nazarul Jamil, have also weathered the adversities of Covid-19 and the impact the pandemic had on their relationships.
They share their inspiring stories below.