Looking back in early February 2020 in Singapore after my trip to India, all I can say is WOW. 🤪 The Coronavirus news is indeed scary, it created fears and it changed the lifestyle of many. But let me just share, the Coronavirus situation in Singapore surprised me in the most wonderful ways…there were so many unexpected support, shocking decisions and I’ve also found myself decided to stay in Singapore in the end.
I’ve decided to stay because;
I am educated in Singapore which also means I should know better than my fears how to handle a situation and to relocate immediately is not the right solution. Singapore is known for its systematic, clean governance, advanced medical research, and advanced technology amongst countries. The public health has taken enhanced measures to contain the spread of the virus and the country has made good progress. Let’s not just look at the small numbers of infected cases that are increasing every week but also let’s pay attention to how the government is addressing the issues. On 27 February 2020 there have been 93 confirmed cases of COVID0-19 infection but 62 have recovered and have been discharged from hospital. It means there is an excellent health care assistance and the government is investigating to identify the links of infection.
In my opinion, it is still safe to live, travel, study and work in Singapore for the following reasons;
#1 Singapore is a clean and structured country.
The country has a good reputation for being impeccably clean, with an active campaign against littering and stringent enforcement in place. For example, first-time offenders who throw small items like cigarette butts or candy wrappers are fined $300.
Since the virus outbreak, I’ve noticed the public cleaners are working 3x harder than usual. For example in my condo, there are certain hours the gym is closed because there are multiple cleaning sessions. The residents can only use the facilities at certain hours.
Singapore is committed to revitalizing infection prevention and control activities in the country. We don’t just maintain cleanliness but also the government is educating us through different platforms on how we can fight the Coronavirus.
#2 The government is transparent and reliable.
I’ve read so much news on how neighbouring countries brag about “zero coronavirus”. I can imagine the reason why they have “zero coronavirus records” because they probably don’t have a budget for public health screening and it could be there are numbers of suspected or infected patients that are not recorded or manipulated not to announce it because it will affect their economy and tourism.
Singapore came up as vulnerable despite the probability of risks that it will affect the businesses but the government still carried on to the public announcement of what is actually going on. Every week the number of suspected and confirmed cases is available on the news and government platforms, it is not hidden or manipulated. The only hidden is the personal information of the patients for their privacy.
#3 Singapore is a systematic country.
Okay, there was a panic buying situation after the Orange level alert and many of us have different reactions. Some purchased massive food to keep in their homes, some traveled for a temporary holiday and some foreign workers left the country because they don’t feel safe. We all have reasonable fears.
However, in just two weeks the food supplies are back to normal. I can easily place an order on Amazon or RedMart for grocery or I can shop at any local stores. There is no more massive queuing for groceries.
#4 Singapore provides structured information to the public.
The Ministry of Health in Singapore and its team provides early detection they don’t address only severe cases because to detect the early stage will identify the links of infection and hence, it can possibly stop the spreading of the virus. It is all about containment as it spreads more the strategy will move to mitigation.
Each patient or suspected cases are carefully investigated. The officials will ask necessary questions such as travel history and social links with possibly infected people. Once information is gathered it is reported accordingly where the members of the public will be aware of it and hence will take necessary precautions. It is all about hard work, a good system and providing structured information to the public. No information is misleading or reported by errors.
The United States, on the other hand, was chaotic at the beginning of the first confirmed case. For example, President Trump and US officials previously said in a press briefing that the patient was a woman. A senior administration official later blamed the mix up on Redfield, who tweeted later that the “CDC erroneously identified that patient as a female”. If the government itself has mixed up public information you can imagine the situation during medical screening.
In addition, there was a delay in the ability to test for the virus. Some testing kits initially sent to a state and local labs were flawed. In Singapore, medical labs are trained as an army they have to act accordingly because the results of failure are serious.
#5 Singapore is known for an aggressive response to a crisis.
Singapore has never hesitated to respond to any crisis whether it is political, economy, crime or health the government is aggressive to address the Coronavirus outbreak. In fact, Singapore is one of the first countries to impose restrictions on anyone with recent travel history to China and parts of South Korea. We have a strict hospital and home quarantine regimen for potentially infected patients and investigating anyone they may have been in contact with.
Also, if an employee is unwell there are few days of automatic medical leave.
If any citizens, residents or foreigners provide false information on their travel history will have punishment such as taking away residency status or ban from entering Singapore. The consequences of lying, misleading information and hiding are high. In short, Singapore will not hesitate to take strong action against rule-breakers.
#6 Singapore has advanced medical research and technology.
I’ve read an article (Fortune) that as the epidemic that emerged from China threatens to become a global pandemic that could wipe off $1 trillion from the world’s gross domestic product, Singapore used it early infections to establish an advanced contact tracing system.
The medical research team is using a serological test developed by Duke-NUS Medical School that can establish links between infected cases, which will allow authorities to map out the chain of transmission and therefore try to break it. Local researchers had earlier successfully cultured the novel virus within a week of Singapore confirming its first case.
Here’s a normal lifestyle that looks like in Singapore.
One early morning in February, I received a call from my family in Los Angeles asking me what do I need from the grocery and they will send it to Singapore via DHL. Of course, I was happy to know they want to spoil me
I wanted to ask them to buy my favourite snacks at K-Mart but I made the conversation simple by saying, “no, thanks family, I will be fine. Keep your money. Night night. Xo”. 😘 Did my sister easily give up? Nope. My rejection didn’t work out.
The next thing I knew my social media is flooded with messages. She sent me photos of super dope mask that as if I will go to medical lab war along with massive sanitizers and mac n cheese in the box (thanks to my sisters, y’all awesome!).
So, I’ve thought I have to address the fears of my family and loved ones for me. It is not healthy that everyone is worried about my safety because panic, fears and negative reactions are worse than Coronavirus. It will give you stress and it will make you socially isolated. It is time for you lil sister Aisha to have a good night sleep because everything here is fine. 🙂 Let me share the lifestyle in Singapore it is not what you imagined based on what you have read on international news.
No shortage of food supplies.
There is no shortage of grocery supplies. FYI, the panic buying only lasted in 3-4 days after that we all back to normal. Even during panic buying situation, there was no incident of fight, stealing, or anything miserable. People queued for hours to get the food.
In fact, I’ve noticed NTUC, Giant and Cold Storage companies have restocked the supplies more than usual. I’ve seen more noodles, bread and basic needs available.
Earlier this morning, I went to Fair Price and bought fresh seafood and meat. I’ve thought to make good meals and keep some leftovers for Sunday. I had fun cooking the crispy pork belly, squid with red cooking wine, and red snapper fish. I had a fantastic lunch.
I always tell my friends if ever they will be run out of food or if their local stores don’t have grocery stocks either I will buy them grocery or I will accompany them where they can shop. I’m always open to helping others.
We work in normal hours and there's an option to work at home.
I’ve heard from my friends who are employees they have options to work at home (mostly tech industries). The situation in start-up community is very different, there are changes but manageable. For example, marketing is an extremely important task in doing start-up without it; a company will not survive in 2 years. Since the outbreak most start-ups have stopped doing the offline marketing and we diverted to online (90% of the time). Events, networking and unnecessary meet-ups have cancelled for health precaution.
Since I returned to Singapore from my trip to India, I’ve been working at home few days in a week, 1-2 days in co-working space in the CBD and if I have an important meeting or event I still attend. If a meeting can be done on Skype, I don’t hesitate to ask.
The only thing I slowdown is social meet-ups. I am very selective to group of people I am meeting and if a meet-up is not so important, I don’t participate. It is all about precaution. No personal issue.
Start-up founder on weekdays, sunshine duchess on weekend. Lol
My lifestyle is the same as last year and many years before that. I work on weekdays and I chill by the pool or swim on the weekend. The cleaners in my condo are doing a good job disinfecting and cleaning the facilities. Each lift has health advisory, downstairs the condo has new 24-hours open supermarket, the security guards are taking precaution as well by checking the temperature of drivers at the gate.
Although the BBQ parties in my condo have lessened I don’t feel being isolated anymore. 😉 I have the options to enjoy using the condo facilities, meeting up selective events or staying at home. My lifestyle is normal and in fact, the beginning of 2020 is more peaceful than 2019. I am less busy, productive online and more inspired to keep going. Coronavirus is indeed a wake up call not to be overly confident of my situation, that I need to work harder, be smarter and create options in life.
I’m not a crazy party-goer because I’ve been there and done that when I was in my early twenties but what crazy means to me may not be crazy to you. Lol, I’m literally a Cinderella all my life because every time I go out, I make sure I am home by midnight. I don’t follow anyone’s rules or curfew; I have my own boundaries that I set for myself especially when I want to work online. Focus and consistency are my keys.
However, recently I set my “curfew” earlier than usual. I tried to be home as early as six in the evening to have dinner and to nomad my work. On weekdays I work as a start-up and on weekend I do pretty much anything I want – updating this blog, checking my server, reading a book, working out at the gym or taking an afternoon nap. I’m home. 😋
In my opinion, Singapore is still a very safe country with low crime rates, a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to drugs, good governance, and strict public health screening.
My family and loved ones should not be worried about me because my life is still good and the current situation in Singapore is just temporary. Singapore has been through a lot of challenges and if you will remember Singapore is one of the first countries who fought against SARS. What Singapore is showing the world is that when there is early detection, strict health screening, public health support, the virus may not be as uncontrollable as feared.
Watch my recent videos on YouTube where lifestyle in Singapore is normal.