Ways Singapore Is Eliminating COVID-19 and What Countries Can Learn

How Singapore Is Eliminating COVID-19 and What Other Countries Can Learn From Them

Singapore’s multiple lines of defence is doing the trick.

During this pandemic, we have seen many countries putting in place various strategies to combat the coronavirus pandemic. One country’s prompt response to mitigate the imminent threat of the novel coronavirus has been lauded by the others, including the World Health Organisation (WHO). While several countries grapple with escalating infections, Singapore has managed to reduce the number of cases. Let’s take a look at the ways Singapore is eliminating COVID-19. Other countries can learn from the government of Singapore on what can be done and should be done moving forward. 

1. Unwavering contact tracing 

Image credit: Jirath Ninchaikovit

Since news of the pandemic took the world by storm, a multi-agency team in Singapore was established to conduct contact tracing expeditiously. So, what is contact tracing? It involves tracking down those in close contact with someone who has become infected with COVID-19 so as to monitor their condition and to isolate or quarantine them necessarily. This is an essential step taken in Singapore’s multi-faceted strategy to combat the fatal disease. It helps to halt the ongoing transmission of the highly-contagious disease. 

Despite the fact that the number of COVID-19 cases has dwindled, the Ministry of Health intends to increase the testing capacity to 40,000 daily. Considering the fact that Singapore is a country with a population of about 5.8 million, that’s a substantial figure. There are four key procedures when it comes to Singapore’s contact tracing approach. They are:

  • Interviewing the patient to map his movements and contacts in the last 14 days.
  • Contact tracing team investigating people he has interacted with to garner more details.
  • Identifying those at risk of infection.
  • Notifying those who are well to be quarantined for 14 days. On the other hand, hospitalising those manifesting symptoms and treating them as a suspect case. 

2. Rolling out contact tracing apps

Image credit: Gov.SG

Singapore has rolled out a mobile application to expedite the process of retracing an infected person’s whereabouts so as to easily locate people who are at risk of infection. Dubbed TraceTogether, it already has 2.1 million users onboard. Community-driven approach to combat the spread of COVID-19 is at the forefront of this innovative solution. It works by exchanging the anonymised proximity information of users via Bluetooth. The Ministry of Health (MOH) will be able to retrieve the information stored, in the unfortunate circumstance that a user gets sick from COVID-19. 

Additionally, SafeEntry, a digital check-in system is used extensively across Singapore. What it essentially does is to log the details (identify number and contact detail) of individuals patronising public venues to enable contact tracers to discover close contacts of infected cases swiftly. This would, in turn, prevent new clusters from forming should there be a confirmed case at the location. The efficient system is deployed at various locations exhibiting a high risk of non-transient contact. They include workplaces, retail outlets, shopping malls, dine-in restaurants, supermarkets, and even wet markets. 

3. Putting in place safe distancing measures

Image credit: Jnzl

Even though Singapore has moved into phase 2 of its reopening, with several activities resuming, safe distancing is still ongoing. To shed light on the importance of social distancing, COVID-19 spreads easily through physical contact from person to person. As such, Singapore has encouraged individuals to minimise physical contact with one another while reducing the ways they come in close contact. 

To make this possible, Singapore has implemented various measures including:

  • Social gatherings should have no more than five people.
  • There must be physical spacing of at least one metre between groups.
  • There should be no mixing between groups. 
  • Employers have to ensure telecommuting wherever possible. 
  • Employees must not socialise among themselves
  • Households can only receive up to five visitors at any given time. 

4. Making wearing face masks mandatory

Image credit: Arturo Rey

Sauntering around Singapore’s unusually cavernous streets, you will notice each and every citizen donning a face mask. This is because Singapore has made it mandatory to wear a face mask when stepping out of the house. And, perhaps many are not willing to part with $300 for flouting the rule. Yes, this regulation comes with a heavy price for not abiding by it.

Wearing a face mask is obligatory for everyone simply because it lowers the risk of airborne infection. If you didn’t already know, a single cough can produce up to 3,000 droplets. Furthermore, with the prevalence of asymptomatic carriers, wearing a protective face gear acts as a protection. Singapore has even gone on to distribute free masks for every resident. It has conducted three nationwide mask distribution exercises to date. 

5. Gradual reopening of the economy

Image credit: Lily Banse

If you may have already heard, Singapore implemented a stringent set of preventative measures colloquially known as circuit breaker (or CB). For the uninitiated, citizens and those living in Singapore were urged to stay at home as much as possible and could only leave the house for vital reasons that were sanctioned. This stay-at-home order began on 7 April and lasted till 19 May. 

After ending the circuit breaker, Singapore did not rush into resuming activities to get the economy going again. Singapore turned its hand into a three-phased approach to resume them safely instead in a bid to eliminate COVID-19. Under phase 1 (safe re-opening), economic activities that do not pose high risk of transmission are able to commence. This includes certain workplaces and schools functioning on alternate days. Under phase 2 ( Safe Transition), almost the entire economy will get back on track, with safe distancing measures in place, of course. Singapore is still currently in phase 2 of its reopening, with the government easing the measures based on its risk assessment until it reaches Phase 3 (Safe Nation). This will possibly only be the case when a vaccine is developed and till then, Singaporeans are to adapt to a ‘new normal’ during this pandemic.

Also read: Phase 2: 7 Things You Can Now Do in Singapore

6. Ramping up healthcare facilities

To ensure that the healthcare system in Singapore is able to meet the exigent demands brought about by the pandemic, it has implemented a multi-approach strategy. With many hospitals in countries all over the world feeling the strain of a spike in coronavirus infections, Singapore is certain it would not face such a predicament. Why, you may ask?

Over the months, Singapore has seen to it that there are sufficient facilities and manpower to deal with COVID-19 patients. It has increased the bed capacity in hospitals to accommodate COVID-19 patients by more than double, set up adequate intensive care unit facilities for patients with a broad range of underlying health problems and gotten more healthcare workers on board. Additionally, Singapore arranged community care facilities to house patients with relatively mild or no symptoms. As of April, more than 8,000 bed spaces for isolation and care needs are available. 

7. Communicating regularly and effectively

Image credit: Elliot Sloman

Singapore has been tenaciously communicating with the citizens to keep them well-abreast of the situation and prepared for whatever that comes their way. With comprehensive communication strategies in place, it has accelerated the response to the contagion. Transparency is at the forefront of its course of actions. While certain countries restrict information, Singapore does not shun away from disseminating detailed information on confirmed COVID-19 cases. This is a vital approach in Singapore’s attempt to eliminate COVID-19.

Deets are at the fingertips of citizens with an easy subscription to WhatsApp updates (available in multiple languages) from the Ministry of Health and a quick search on the dedicated website. Major media publications also provide daily up-to-date reports on how the situation is unfurling. In this fashion, individuals can get access to accurate information expeditiously and allay their worries. Besides that, the government has released a collection of useful sources, posters and videos on COVID-19 to spread awareness about the situation and educate the general public at a time when unscrupulous content creators promulgate information with half-truths and sensational headlines. 

Also read: Here Are The Top Singapore Food Choices We Missed During The Circuit Breaker!

Evidently, Singapore’s multiple lines of defence is doing the trick. Other countries can look into emulating the ways Singapore is eliminating COVID-19. The war against the novel coronavirus is far from over. Let’s all pull together as a team with a common goal in mind and put an end to this pandemic. 

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Ifah Sakinah
Ifah Sakinah

Sakinah has a discerning palate and an innate desire to satisfy her inner curiosity. While she hasn't been everywhere, it's definitely on her list.


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