Don’t be complacent: S’pore should be prepared that COVID-19 is not gonna go away

Dr Zhang Wenhong,  the leader of the Shanghai team of experts in the treatment of COVID-19, recently described Singapore’s handling of the COVID-19 outbreak as like the Wudang kung fu – seemingly soft and gentle but actually requires a lot of internal strength and qi to overcome opponents relying on brute force. Just think tai chi.

Not that the China doctor is saying that Singapore is taichi-ing all the work away. In fact, he was praising the Singapore government, for staying calm yet able to dish out strong and impactful measures to keep the majority of Singaporeans away from COVID-19.

The China doctor is not the only one to have complimented Singapore’s prevention and control measures.

The WHO officials have praised Singapore for managing the cases with “tremendous rigour” and its commitment to not “leave any stones unturned”. The WHO officials were especially impressed with our ongoing contact tracing efforts where officers from SPF, MOH etc tirelessly go through great lengths to identify links between the confirmed cases.

But it’s not just that. Even Western media, usually critical of Singapore government, are complimenting Singapore’s efforts. According to this Bloomberg article, Singapore government’s transparency in conveying details about the confirmed cases was just right – just enough for people to remain alert but not to the extent of causing panic. This Fortune article also pointed out that Singapore’s approach has shown that the virus can be contained though what is happening in Singapore is hard to replicate.

The ability of our government and our people to stay calm, make the necessary adjustments, goes on with life is vital. It speaks volume of the resilience and mental toughness of our people. Singapore is not a country that wavers whenever a wind blows. Our leaders don’t flinch when difficult decisions need to be made. 

This is reassuring not only to Singaporeans but also to those visiting, holidaying (if anyone is still in the mood) and doing business in Singapore. It is important to show that Singapore has not come to a standstill. It is still very much business “as usual” although we have made some slight adjustments in our lives. We sanitise / wash our hands with soap more often, we clean here clean there with anti-bacterial wipes more, we are more diligent with body temperature measurement, we avoid crowded places, we pay more attention to flu-like symptoms…

Unlike the people in Taiwan, Hong Kong and Japan, wearing mask when we feel unwell was not common in Singapore before COVID-19. Now, people are taking these basic personal health practices more seriously. 

In China, there’s a lot of talk now about adjusting to a “new normal” – where people get used to flexible working hours and staggered shifts and meal times, minimum seat distance between co-workers etc. 

In Singapore, we should not be complacent with what we have done so far. In fact, with global figures on the rise, we should start to prepare ourselves, mentally and physically, that this virus is not going away anytime soon. Many of these personal and public health practices frankly shouldn’t be followed only when there’s COVID-19. It should become part and parcel of our lives because who knows what other virus will come along after this? 

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