TL;DR – Singapore is bold, quick and acted with common sense to safeguard citizens’ well-being.
Con Coughlin is the executive foreign editor of The Telegraph, as well as one of Britain’s leading journalists.
In a recent article on The Telegraph titled, “Singapore shows how to stop coronavirus without bringing the world to a halt”, he applauded Singapore for its ability to limit the virus’s spread without bringing the entire country to a standstill.
He added that the British officials, could perhaps, learn a useful tip or two from Singapore on how it can best contain the outbreak without plunging the entire country into complete paralysis.
Since the full article is locked behind a paywall, we’ve put together a summary of what was said about Singapore below. Alternatively, you can also read the full text version here.
Government’s early decision to impose travel restrictions
At one point, Singapore was one of the first Asian countries to be affected by the virus, dealing with almost 90 confirmed cases.
The Republic also came under the spotlight after a British businessman who had previously attended a conference held in Singapore was identified as Britain’s first COVID-19 victim, raising concerns that it might become one of the main sources of the virus outbreak after China.
However, Coughlin noted that instead of taking extreme measures such as the mass lockdown of the entire city-state, Singapore has managed to contain the virus while still allowing the vast majority of its population to continue with their normal daily routines.
The author attributed this to the government’s early decision to place a strict entry ban on visitors with recent travel to Mainland China from entering the country, calling this a move that limited the ability of potential carriers of the disease to spread the contagion throughout the country.
Basic, common-sense measures that safeguard the well-being of citizens
Granted that the British authorities had, too, acted quickly to limit the movement of travellers from known areas of infection, Coughlin deemed that the most effective measure which safeguarded the well-being of Singapore’s citizens is through the introduction of the basic, common-sense measures:
“It is virtually impossible to enter any building in Singapore without being offered a sanitising hand wash, a simple expedient for limiting the spread of the virus. Similarly citizens are encouraged to conduct regular checks of their temperature, thereby making early detection of potential new cases more likely.”
While Coughlin is well aware that there will inevitably be those who would regard the introduction of any measure as a gross affront to their liberty, he is convinced that these measures are worth implementing it if they can prevent the outbreak in Britain from developing into a major pandemic – especially with the recent increase in the number of cases detected in Britain.
Government’s measures and financial support to cushion economy impact
Like many other countries, Singapore is also grappling with a negative impact on its economy as a result of the epidemic. Coughlin noted that effect might have been worse on sectors such as tourism and aviation, without government introducing measures to provide financial support to these affected sectors.
He also highlighted that the economic impact on Singapore would have been far worse had the government not acted to contain the virus, while enabling the country to continue to function at the same time.
Citing the example of the panic-buying at supermarkets which happened earlier this month, the editor acknowledged that while not everything about Singapore’s response has been perfect, nevertheless, the authorities’ approach in handling new confirmed cases has been remarkable.
Instead of indulging in the type of knee-jerk behaviour, the Singaporean authorities simply get in touch with anyone who might have come into contact with the infected patients and place them in quarantine.
Urging for Britain and other Western countries to model after Singapore’s reasonable but effective measures, Coughlin concluded his article calling for the health officials to not to make comments or statement that could be interpreted as scaremongering, as it is certainly “not the kind of statement that is going to calm the nerves of jittery investors”.
Is Singapore’s unique virus-fighting playbook only about being intrusive and deep pockets?
Join the discussion One Comment
[…] been quite some weeks since the COVID-19 outbreak here in Singapore. While Singapore has been praised for our virus-fighting playbook, we still have not been able to ‘throw the virus out of the […]