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 every country, 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.
According to WHO, Coronaviruses (CoV) are “a large family of viruses” that cause illnesses ranging from your common cold to more severe cases such as pneumonia. In 2019, a new coronavirus strain was identified in Wuhan, China. 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?
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 5 April, the Ministry of Health Singapore (MOH), has reported 1,309 active cases, 25 of which are critical. MOH has since heightened precautionary measures and introduced circuit breakers to minimise the spread of the virus.
Things are going to get real quiet in Singapore from 7 April to 4 May. Food and beverage outlets including hawker centres, food courts and cafes will be available for take-away and delivery only. All workplaces except for essential services such as food establishments, markets, supermarkets, clinics, utilities, transport and key banking services will be closed. Schools and institutes of higher learning will shift to home-based learning from 8 April and all preschools and student care centres will be closed.
Most attractions, hotels, museums, gyms, retail outlets, public libraries, places of worship, beauty salons, massage parlours and nail salons will also be closed. Hair salons and barbers are only allowed to provide basic haircuts.
In his second national address on 12 March, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong mentioned that the “outbreak will continue for some time – a year, and maybe longer”.
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 are going virtual.
Ongoing measures and travel advisories
On 27 March, Singaporeans were 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 were 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.
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:
- It’s now mandatory to wear a mask whenever you head outside. Residents can collect one reusable face mask at designated CCs and RCs from 5 to 12 April.
- 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.
- Try to minimise going out to malls, parks or crowded places unless for essential goods and services. If you really need to head out, plan around SpaceOut.Gov.Sg, a portal that shows the crowd levels in malls.
- We’re all for living a healthy lifestyle but it’s wise to plan your outdoor workouts during off-peak hours. Use Safe Distance @ Parks to gauge the crowd levels at your nearest park.
- Down with a fever, cough or the flu? Wear a mask and seek medical attention right away. Go to one of the Public Health Preparedness Clinics (PHPCs) nearby if you’re experiencing respiratory illnesses such as a common cold. Use this Covid-19 Symptom Checker if you have any doubts.
- Cover your mouth with a tissue paper when coughing or sneezing and dispose of the tissue in a rubbish bin immediately.
- We suggest putting any travel plans on hold until you get the green light from official reports.
- Avoid contact with live animals, poultry and birds.
- Sushi and sashimi can wait. Avoid consuming raw and undercooked meat.
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 at home, 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 and favourite tipples, then catch up on a TV show or listen to a podcast, spruce up your space, lift your mood with aromatherapy, say yes to at-home facials, bake that recipe you bookmarked eons ago and treat yourself to some online shopping.
Working from home? We’ve culled a few productivity hacks and virtual online career and self-development resources to boost your career goals.
Honestly, it’s pretty straightforward. Outbreak or not, observing basic personal hygiene is key and being socially responsible is pretty obvious. Singapore is not on Dorscon Red alert and let’s keep it that way! With a little initiative, awareness and social distancing, we can kick Covid-19 in the butt, fosho! Let’s do this, people!