Overview of COVID-19 situation in Singapore
Overview of COVID-19 situation in Singapore
Dr. Noel Xu (22 April 2020)
The first COVID-19 case in Singapore emerged on 23 January 2020. As of 21 April 2020, there are 9,125 COVID-19 cases in Singapore. There are 3,593 active cases; out of which 3,566 are in stable conditions under hospitalization, while 27 are in critical conditions under intensive care. There are 4,682 cases who have been discharged to isolation. There are 839 cases who have been discharged. There are 11 patients who have passed away from COVID-19-related causes.
Measures taken to control viral transmission
During the early stage of the viral transmission, there has been an increasingly number of importation of COVID-19 cases into Singapore . In view of the heightened risk of importation of more cases into Singapore, all short-term visitors are not allowed to enter or transit through Singapore from 23 March. The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) only allows the entry or return of work pass holders, including their dependents, for those providing essential services, such as in healthcare and transport. All Singapore Citizens, Permanent Residents, Long Term Pass holders returning to Singapore will be issued a 14-day Stay-Home Notice (SHN).
Until recently, there has been a surge in a number of community transmission, particularly foreign workers in the dormitories. As a result, from 7 April until 4 May (inclusive), heightened safe-distancing measures (termed as “circuit breaker” measures) are implemented to pre-empt escalating infections of COVID-19 . Significantly reducing movements and interactions in public and private places can function as a circuit breaker, and allow to bring the infection numbers down.
Only essential services that support daily needs will remain open, with safe-distancing measures in place. Other non-essential services and retail outlets, such as recreation venues, sports and recreation facilities, will be closed.
The public has been advised as follows:
- Stay at home. If it is necessary to go out, such as to buy daily necessities or for urgent medical needs, one has to wear a mask outdoors.
- Do not hold social gatherings.
- Limit social contact.
- If one needs to exercise outdoors in a park, keep a safe distance from others.
Food items will continue to be available, as all food and beverage outlets, such as restaurants, hawker centres, coffeeshops and food courts, will remain open for takeaway or delivery only. Supermarkets, convenience stores, grocery retailers and wholesale and wet markets will remain open too. Essential services such as healthcare, social services, banking and financial services will continue to be open. Public transport and transport services like private-hire cars and taxis will continue to operate. From 8 April to 4 May, schools and Institutes of Higher Learning (IHLs) will move to full Home-Based Learning (HBL). Preschool and student care centres will suspend services. Workplaces, except for those in essential services and key economic sectors, will be closed. Employers that are able to continue to operate their businesses with their employees working from home should continue to do so.
On 21 April, an extension of the circuit breaker period by another four weeks till 1 June has been announced . At the same time, tighter measures to the circuit breaker period have been imposed to further reduce the transmission of COVID-19.
The operations of less critical services will be suspended as follows:
- For the food & beverage (F&B) sector: standalone outlets that only sell beverages, packaged snacks, confectioneries or desserts will be required to close their outlets.
- All other F&B outlets that sell meals can continue to remain open for takeaway and delivery services only.
- Hairdressing and barber services will be required to close their outlets.
- Optician shops can operate by appointment only; walk-in customers are no longer accepted.
- Pet supplies stores and retail laundry services must close their physical stores, but are permitted to provide online sales and delivery.
The number of businesses allowed to operate at their work premises will also be reduced, especially businesses that are less critical for daily living or to maintain essential supply chains. Some businesses which are currently permitted to operate at their work premises will be required to suspend their on-site activities.
Lessons learned from the pandemic
With the combination of measures, Singapore has been able to interrupt the viral transmission with success due to the thorough contact tracing that has been done. Since the emergence of the first COVID-19 case, a multi-agency team has worked tirelessly to curb the spread of the coronavirus. The purpose of contact tracing is to identify individuals who may have been exposed to those confirmed with virus infection. These individuals are monitored closely and may be quarantined so that they can be treated early and not expose others to infection. The contact tracing, overseen by the Ministry of Health, involves many key personnel, including hospitals, the police, volunteers from statutory boards, Certis security officers, paramedics and the Government Technology Agency (GovTech). Singapore has been performing contact tracing via activity mapping, analytic tools, surveillance footage, door-to-door inquiries and through the recently launched TraceTogether smartphone app .
Despite the circuit breaker measures being strongly enforced, no single measure is sufficient to protect all Singaporeans. It will require the collective effort of every Singaporean to take safe-distancing and good personal hygiene seriously .
How is this virus infection affecting your daily life and work?
Being in the education sector, we as lecturers are directly affected as we have to take all classes online. While we already had competencies in online or remote teaching in ways such as live streaming, pre-recorded teaching sessions, facilitating discussions in a digital platform, and providing assessment and receiving feedback, much background preparation still had to be done to get us, students and infrastructure ready for lessons to transition seamlessly into online learning.
1. Chong, C. (2020, March 20). Coronavirus: Nearly half of Covid-19 cases in Singapore now imported, returning travelers could raise infection number. The Straits Times. Retrieved from: https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/number-of-infections-here-could-rise-in-coming-weeks-say-experts.
2. Singapore Government Agency. (2020, April 6). COVID-19 Circuit Breaker: Heightened Safe-Distancing Measures to Reduce Movement. Retrieved from: https://www.gov.sg/article/covid-19-circuit-breaker-heightened-safe-distancing-measures-to-reduce-movement.
3. Singapore Government Agency. (2020, April 21). Circuit Breaker Extension and Tighter Measures: What You Need to Know. Retrieved from: https://www.gov.sg/article/circuit-breaker-extension-and-tighter-measures-what-you-need-to-know.
4. Singapore Government Agency. (2020, April 1). Trace Together. Retrieved from: https://www.tracetogether.gov.sg/.
5. Goh, T. (2020, April 17). 50 caught not wearing masks; 150 fined for safe distancing breaches. The Straits Times. Retrieved from: https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/health/50-caught-not-wearing-masks-150-fined-for-safe-distancing-breaches.