Singapore tops for COVID-19 response: Are we really impressive? Do we deserve the gold standard?

By February 20, 2020Current, Perspectives

TL;DR – It has also been said that if Singapore can’t contain COVID-19, then the rest of the world will be all screwed. 

If you’ve been following the news closely, you would have read that the researchers at Harvard University have commended Singapore for its ability to detect the COVID-19 cases, calling its detection system a “gold standard” and “near-perfect” one.

A Pulitzer Prize-winning science writer and epidemic expert has also said that if Singapore can’t contain Covid-19, then the rest of the world will be all screwed.

More recently, the World Health Organization (WHO) director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that he was very impressed with Singapore’s efforts in tackling the COVID-19 outbreak.

Are we really that good, though?

Let’s have a quick run-through of what Singapore has done so far in tacking the COVID-19 outbreak.

Singapore’s efforts and efficiency in tracking cases

To date, Singapore has a total of 84 infections – third-highest number of confirmed cases outside of China. But does it mean that Singapore is more dangerous than the other countries?

Singapore has a high record of COVID-19 cases. Are we more dangerous, virus-wise?

A viral article on the South China Morning Post (SCMP) pointed out that Singapore has more COVID-19 cases because we have very high standards of detection. In addition to that, we also have a 70-strong team, working 24/7 to do contact tracing to weed out all suspected cases and test.

So nope, it does not necessarily mean that we are more dangerous. It could also be because we are far more efficient in detecting cases than the others.

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Transparency of information

To ensure that Singaporeans are kept informed of any latest developments, news regarding the COVID-19 are promptly delivered communicated through various platforms – be it mainstream media, the Ministry of Health’s (MOH) website, or social media.

Latest information about the COVID-19, such as status updates of confirmed cases, precautionary measures, health advisories and clarifications on misinformation, is also disseminated through the Gov.sg WhatsApp channel, on top of the usual mass media outlets.

If you have subscribed to the Whatsapp channel, you’d know how frequently these updates are being sent. In fact, I receive messages Gov.sg more often than I do from my crush! Wtf.

If you can recall, not too long ago, our Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, took to social media to address the public’s concerns in a 9-minute long video. And that’s just the English version. In the video which was uploaded one day after DORSCON alert raised from yellow to orange, he shed light on the virus situation in Singapore and also reassured Singaporeans that the Government is prepared and has sufficient resources for everyone.

While PM Lee openly shared about the Government’s plan to tackle the situation in Singapore, he also did not shy away to talk about how the situation might worsen.

This is one thing that I truly appreciate – the openness and transparency of our Government.

Proper healthcare and Quarantine facilities

If you had read this or this, you would have realised that our Government is dead serious about “catching” and containing the virus.

They’d rather err on the side of caution than to let any potential case slip through the net.

S’pore woman documents her journey in NCID, has “mad respect” & faith in Singapore’s medical team

Besides ensuring that those who are infected get proper healthcare and quarantine facilities, the Government also incentivizes people who suspect they might be infected to come forward by footing the medical bills and even providing support and allowance for people on Quarantine Orders and Stay-Home Notice (SHN).

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Special subsidies are also made available for Singapore Citizens and Permanent Residents diagnosed with respiratory illnesses when they visit the Public Health Preparedness Clinics (PHPCs), as well as polyclinics.

Reactive measures to reduce risk of further community spread

At one point, surgical masks and N95 masks were flying off the shelves and quickly went out-of-stocks among retail stores as the number of COVID-19 cases increased.

To assure Singaporeans that we have a national stockpile and have enough for our needs, the Government then distributed four free masks to all 1.37 million households in Singapore.

Then on Feb 17, MOH announced that it has decided to introduce a new Stay-Home Notice (SHN) for Singapore residents and long-term pass holders returning to Singapore from mainland China.

This notice is stricter the Leave of Absence (LOA) and is one of the many precautionary measures the authorities have undertaken to minimise the risk of additional imported cases of COVID-19.

Economic measures to help Singaporeans cope with COVID-19

To help Singaporeans grappling with the effects of COVID-19, the authorities have stepped in with various relief packages to tide Singaporeans through the next few months.

Last week, a $77 million Point-to-Point Support Package to help taxi and private-hire car drivers through the virus outbreak was announced by the Land Transport Authority (LTA) and Ministry of Transport (MOT). This package will benefit about 40,000 drivers, who will be receiving a Special Relief of $20 per day for the next three months.

Similarly, to help workers to remain employed and aid companies with cash flow, a $4 billion Stabilisation and Support Package was announced at Budget 2020.

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Additionally, sectors such as tourism, aviation, retail, and food services which have taken a direct hit from the coronavirus outbreak, will receive additional help from the Government.

Households will be getting help to cope with the cost of living in this economic slowdown and the uncertainties of the virus outbreak.

A $1.6 billion Care and Support Package was also unveiled at Budget 2020, which will help Singaporeans with household expenses during this period of uncertainty resulted from the virus outbreak.

The Care and Support Package will include a one-off cash payout for all Singaporeans aged 21 and up. They will receive either $100, $200 or $300, depending on household income.

Additionally, every adult Singaporean with at least one Singaporean child aged under 20 this year will receive an additional $100.

Credit must be given where credit is due, methinks.

With all these packages to support and protect Singaporeans, and all the measures to help businesses transform and stay afloat so that Singaporeans can keep their jobs, I honestly think that the Government does deserve a pat on their back – whether you like them or not.

And I bet my bottom dollar that nobody else in the world is doing the same as we are doing.

 

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Gabrielle Teo

Author Gabrielle Teo

I read lots, and I also spend an indecent amount of time trying to get my mostly unpopular opinions published. Oh, I argue a lot with fellow Singaporeans who complain incessantly about Singapore too.

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