We dive into what the virus means for Singaporeans, necessary precautions to take, travel advisories and how to keep yourself stress-free.
Real talk: The coronavirus outbreak has caused quite a frenzy this year, putting Singapore, along with 159 countries, on high alert. So what’s this virus all about? What are some preventive measures we can take? Since the World Health Organization (WHO) has officially declared COVID-19 a pandemic and Singapore’s Disease Outbreak Response System Condition (Dorscon) is at orange, how worried should you be? We’ve got all the deets.
To put things simply, coronaviruses (CoV) are “a large family of viruses” that cause illnesses ranging from your common cold to more severe cases such as pneumonia and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). In 2019, a new coronavirus strain was identified in Wuhan, China. Yup, the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) that we all know of today is the culprit that caused severe pneumonia in China and rapid transmission across the globe. There is no proven specific treatment or anti-viral drug for COVID-19 as of now.
The symptoms: More common than you think
The symptoms are similar to regular pneumonia and other respiratory illness. They include a runny nose, sore throat, cough, fever and even shortness of breath for severe cases.
How does one get infected and why is it spreading so rapidly?
According to WHO, coronaviruses are zoonotic (they can be transmitted between animals and people) but reports have shown a risk of human-to-human transmission. Much like the flu, the virus can transfer via close contact (about six feet) with an infected person when they cough or sneeze. It can also spread when you touch your mouth, nose or eyes after touching infected surfaces or objects.
What’s the sitch in Singapore?
As of 13 March, the Ministry of Health Singapore (MOH), has reported 401 active cases, 17 of which are critical. But don’t break out in cold sweat just yet as the bulk of these have been imported and there’s also a steady increase in recovered cases. MOH has also introduced additional precautionary measures, enhanced environmental cleaning and heightened measures for vulnerable groups including young kids and the elderly.
In his second national address on 12 March, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong mentioned that Singapore will not go into lockdown nor will it escalate to Dorscon red. He also stated that the “outbreak will continue for some time – a year, and maybe longer”.
Tighter measures and travel advisory
With effect from 27 March, Singaporeans are advised to limit gatherings outside of work and school to 10 people or less and maintain at least one metre of physical distancing. All bars and entertainment venues where there’s a high risk of transmission will be closed. That includes night clubs, discos, cinemas, theatres, and karaoke outlets. And of course, we already know that all ticketed social or mass gatherings with 250 people or more will have to be postponed or cancelled. Temperature and health screenings will also be conducted at malls, museums, attractions and other public venues.
Singaporeans are advised to defer all travel abroad. Previous advisories urged travellers to postpone or cancel non-essential travel to Hubei province and mainland China, Iran, Japan, South Korea, Italy, France, Spain and Germany.
All Singaporeans PRs, Long Term Pass holders and short term visitors entering Singapore will be issued a 14-day Stay-Home Notice. Currently, visitors who’ve travelled to China, France, Germany, Iran, Italy, Republic of Korea and Spain will be denied entry or transit through Singapore.
Cancelled gigs, restaurant deliveries and virtual events
Events such as the Geylang Serai Ramadan Bazaar, the Olympics, Pink Dot, multiple concerts and our very own Live Better have been cancelled or postponed till further notice. It’s not all gloom and doom though! Local establishments are doing all they can to stay atop the current climate. Your favourite restaurants are now delivering (some islandwide) and events like Asia’s 50 Best Bars and Earth Hour are going virtual.
Small measures make all the difference
It’s easy to feel anxious during this trying time, but life has to go on. What we can do, however, is to remain vigilant and take preventive measures. We’ve gathered a list with the help of MOH:
- Avoid contact with live animals, poultry and birds.
- Sushi and sashimi can wait. Avoid consuming raw and undercooked meat.
- Wash your hands frequently with soap. Lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers and under your nails. Scrub for 20 seconds or hum the “Happy Birthday” song twice. Dry your hands with a clean towel. Use a hand sanitizer if you can’t wash your hands immediately.
- Avoid crowded places and contact with people who are unwell.
- Down with a fever, cough or the flu? Wear a mask and seek medical attention right away. Psst… there’s no need to wear one if you’re well. Save it for a rainy day. These aren’t our favourite kind of face masks but while we’re on the topic, make sure you get the right type and learn how to use it properly. The government also provided masks for every household in Feb.
- Cover your mouth with a tissue paper when coughing or sneezing and dispose of the tissue in a rubbish bin immediately.
- Travelled recently? Monitor your health closely for two weeks upon your return. We suggest putting any travel plans on hold until you get the green light from official reports.
Life goes on…
No use panicking over what you can’t control, but what you can do is be good to your gut and boost your immune system by consuming adequate fruits and veggies, slurping up on juices, clocking in enough exercise, getting ample sleep and ensuring a stress-free lifestyle.
Please, please stay home as much as you can – even if you aren’t running a temperature. We’ve got plenty of suggestions for you to keep busy at home. Start by ordering your meal in, then catch up on your favourite TV show, spruce up your space with new furniture, lift your mood with aromatherapy, bake that recipe you bookmarked eons ago and treat yourself to some online shopping. Working from home? We’ve culled a few productivity hacks , plus some of the best online career and self-development resources that are now totally free!
Honestly, it’s pretty straightforward. Outbreak or not, observing basic personal hygiene is key and being socially responsible is pretty obvious. With a little initiative, awareness and social distancing, we can kick COVID-19 in the butt, fosho! Let’s do this, people!