Defeating COVID-19 - The Singapore Way



Singapore fights COVID-19



We have been in the limelight for having the highest COVID-19 cases outside of China(excluding cases from quarantine ship in Japan). Does it mean that our control system has failed?

On the contrary, we had received global acknowledgement of our efforts in fighting COVID-19. Despite the numbers, we are considerably well controlled. Given Singapore' small footprint and density of residents, it is a commendable effort.

Singapore wins praise for its approach


So how do we do battle with COVID-19?

 These are the measures taken by Singapore to combat this virus.

Jan 23
Scot cancels daily flights from Wuhan 



Jan 27
Compulsory Leave of Absence ( LOA) for Students and Staff returning from Mainland China for school
MOE implement LOA for students and staff returning from Mainland China

Source: CNA

Quarantine Zones for COVID-19
Quarantine zones are announced. Selected chalets, University Hostels ( SMU, NUS, NTU) , OBS camps in Pulau Ubin announced as quarantine zones.

Source: Straits Times

Jan 28
Incentives to Quarantine | Quarantine Rules
An incentive of $100 to be given to Singaporeans or PR who are self -employed or to the employers if they are salaried (Quarantine does not come from annual leave)

Anyone who flouts measures may be fined up to $10,000, jailed 6 months or both

Source: Straits Times


Source : ST

Jan 29
Travels Restrictions on Travellers from Hubei 
One of the first initiatives was to restrict travellers from Hubei. New visitors who travelled to Hubei and holders of Chinese Passports to Hubei would be denied entry to Singapore. This stopped the overseas imported cases with the last case reported on Jan 22. ( Discounting the evacuees of Singapore residents from Wuhan)

Source: GOV


Jan 30
Each household to get 4 surgical mask

Each household will be provided 4 surgical masks from the country's stockpile. Collection date till 29th Feb


Profiteers of Mask to be questioned.

If found profiteering, action will be taken


Source: Straits Times



Jan 31
Ban all new visitors who have been to China
Ban all new visitors who have been to China in the last 14 days from entering and transiting. New visas will not be issued to those with PRC passports. All new work pass applications and previously issued short tern and multiple -visit visas for those with PRC passports will be suspended

Returing Singapore Citizens, PRs and long term pass holders will be placed under 14 days LOA

Source: Today 

Feb 6
Mandatory for all workers returning from Mainland China to be placed under Leave of Absence (LOA)
Employers will be given $1000 a day for each worker placed on LOA. Applicable to employees who are Singaporean, permanent residents or work pass
Foreign Worker level will be waived during this period

Source: CNA


Feb 9
Tough Measures to those employers that breach Leave of Absence (LOA)
MOM will revoke work passes of employees and work pass privileges of employers who flout the law

Source: CNA

Robust Contact Tracing
There are seven teams working on contact tracing. Through contact tracing, they are able to identify clusters as well as cases that have 'unknown' source of transmission

Source: Straits Times


Feb 12 
Free Medical Treatment for confirmed cases
Hospital bills incurred by the coronavirus in public hospital will be covered. This coverage does not extend to outpatient treatment.

Source: Straits Times

New Grab service dedicated to picking healthcare workers
GrabCare is an initiative by the public sector Grab. Its is meant for healthcare professionals to book a ride home from National Centre for Infectious Diseases ( NVID) and Tan Tock Seng Hospital(TTSH). Will be expanded to include rides from home to hospital and more participating hospital. This is in response to reports that healthcare worker are shunned in public transport.

Source: Straits Times

Feb 13
Support package for Taxi and Private Hire Car Drivers
Support package $77 million for Taxi and Private Hire Car Drivers

Source: Straits Times

FEB 14
Supporting Healthcare Workers whose leave and holiday plans have been cancelled


Help in requests for refunds from travel agents and insurance companies. Should the latter be unable to refund in full, the public healthcare institutions will help defray the cost incurred.

Source : GOV.sg

Public Health Preparedness Clinics activated reduce COVID 19 Risk
900 GP Clinics designated as PHPCS will be activated to care for patients with respiratory symptoms such as fever, cough, sore throat and runny nose. Patients with suspected pneumonia will be referred to the hospital
Special subsidies for Singapore Citizens and PR diagnosed with respiratory illness. Flat subsidised rats of $10 for consultation and treatment. Pioneer Generation and Merdeka Generations pay $5. It will be effective from Feb 18.

Source : CNA


What could be done better

Distribution of Mask to masses
There are still long queues at retail shops whenever masks are available.  This shows that there are still demand for masks. It is usually by luck that one gets to purchase masks. These long queues could also be a potential source of transmission and could be a possible loophole to crowd control as advised by current DORSCON Orange status.

A way to ensure everyone gets their masks is to have a systematic approach. Instead of crowds forming to buy masks when it is available, perhaps mask could be sold or distributed online. Front line staff should be given priority to purchase followed by senior citizens and residents. This way it will ensure that masks will be made available to the ones that need it the most.


Anticipating fears


Regardless of the updates, you could still sense fear in the general population. From panic buying at Supermarkets to avoidance of hospital staff, these are incidents that highlight the fear.  Before messages are delivered, the anticipation of irrational behaviour (eg limit the products purchased in the supermarket) due to feat is a necessity. This would require the coordination of both public and private resources. Nonetheless, it is a Herculean task given the ever-changing landscape of COVID19 in Singapore.

Related Readings

List of COVID19 Confirmed Cases Singapore



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