Singapore’s Most Effective Measures That Show How We Keeping Things In Control

Covid-19 is quickly coming close to becoming a global pandemic, as outbreaks occur farther and farther from the epicentre of Wuhan, China.

From China, it spread to many Asian countries, and recently, it has been wreaking havoc in the West, with the number of cases in Europe and America quickly rising.

Even Bhutan, one of the world’s more reclusive countries, has not been spared, as 1 case was reported on Friday (6 Mar).

Due to the virus’ highly infectious nature, the number of patients in a country can skyrocket in just a day. For instance, South Korea’s cases jumped from 82 to 1,146 in less than a week.

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Japan’s not much better off. To the surprise of many around the world, they’ve struggled to cope with Covid-19 effectively ever since the Diamond Princess cruise ship ordeal.

Luckily, we live in Singapore

The world looks like a dark, sad place now, but luckily most of us reading this live in Singapore, and we don’t have to worry as much about our situation.

While Singapore was initially the worst-hit country, our numbers of cases now pale in comparison to that of other countries.

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With a first-class healthcare industry and our government constantly reviewing coping measures, it seems like we’re doing a pretty good job keeping Covid-19 under control.

We’ve even received praise from media outlets all over the world, all reporting how our tiny country has set the “gold standard” for Covid-19 detection and measures. The United States is even using us an a model of how to mitigate community spread.

Here are some of the measures we’ve taken and breakthroughs we’ve achieved that confirm that we do indeed deserve the hype we’ve been getting.

In no particular order, here they are.

1. Singapore’s Government pays for all Covid-19 patients’ treatment

For many, paying hospital bills – especially for a month-long stay in a hospital ward – would put an unbearable burden on their finances.

In the US, many people don’t even get tested as it simply costs too much. They’d rather live in denial and not seek treatment than have to fork out thousands of dollars just to get tested.

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American media company MarketWatch wrote that a man “racked up US$3,270 (S$4,515) in hospital charges” just by getting tested for Covid-19 after a business trip to china.

Naturally, if people don’t get tested, they may potentially be infecting others while going about their days as normal.

That’s why Singapore’s Government decided that it would be pay Covid-19 patients’ bills in full.

To encourage people to get tested, Singaporeans and permanent residents pay a flat rate of just S$10 for consultation and treatment at Public Health Preparedness Clinics. Those from the Pioneer Generation and Merdeka Generation will pay S$5.

2. Effective identification of links between cases

Barely a week after the first case here was confirmed, researchers from Duke-NUS Medical School managed to culture a strain of Covid-19.

Using that culture, they were able to develop serological tests involving antibodies that helped them understand how cases were related to each other.

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Before this breakthrough, Singapore had already been hailed as the “gold standard” for case detection by a study at Harvard University, and received international recognition for its sensitive detection of cases.

3. Encouraging work-from-home arrangements

When Singapore raised its Dorscon level to Orange on 7 Feb, companies were encouraged to roll out work-from-home arrangements, to avoid having large groups of people in an enclosed area.

Since then, it’s clear that many companies have taken up this suggestion, as retailers in the Central Business District have reported 40% to 50% falls in customers and revenue.

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On the other hand, other countries with similarly high-pressured working environments haven’t taken as well to the alternative work arrangements.

Japanese employees, for one, weren’t fans of the arrangement, reported The Straits Times, as it’s part of their culture to spend hours on end in the office.

Apparently, despite the worsening Covid-19 situation in Japan, over 70% of Japanese firms surveyed by Reuters weren’t considering alternative work arrangements.

In fact, a Japanese company reportedly told an employee to come in to work with a fever, according to SoraNews24.

4. Efficient, accurate testing kits

Due to our constant research and innovation, Singapore’s been able to develop effective Covid-19 testing kits that yield results in minimal time.

Our latest test kit takes just 3 hours to yield a result — a vast difference from the current tests in the US, which may take at least a day for results, reports CNN.

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We’ve even sent them to other countries in need, like Myanmar.

5. Official Government updates via WhatsApp

Singaporeans love sharing and reading information over social media. Sadly, this means we are sometimes too enthusiastic in sharing false information on important topics like Covid-19.

To prevent the spread of fake news, our Government set up its own WhatsApp account, Gov.sg, through which they send updates about the Covid-19 situation to subscribers.

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It’s a fast and effective way of weeding out the fake news and disseminating information efficiently, and it’s even being used to track those under quarantine, reported Govinsider.asia.

Quarantined people can report their current location to the authorities just by clicking a link sent via text message. This allows the authorities to ensure people are abiding by their quarantine regulations at all times.

You can sign up for the Gov.sg WhatsApp service here.

Being grateful for the luxury of safety

The Covid-19 situation, which has been plaguing Singapore for nearly 2 months, has definitely taken a toll on our spirits.

Being cooped up at home and having many large-scale events cancelled isn’t fun, and our hands are getting pretty dry from all the washing and sanitising.

If you’re starting to get cranky about the situation, just remember that it could be much, much worse.

After all, it’s comforting to know that even if we do contract Covid-19, our treatment is free, and it’s quite likely that we’ll get better. After all, we haven’t had a single fatality here yet. Knock on wood.

Perhaps we should be thankful that the situation here is well-controlled, and keep doing our part to make sure we get through it as soon as possible.

Featured image adapted from AFP.