With the rise in new COVID-19 clusters in Singapore, the island nation might be heading back into another round of lockdown to control the spread of the virus. This is worrying news, especially considering how the country has done really well in containing the spread during the first wave of the pandemic.
When news of the coronavirus first spread in early 2020, Singapore swiftly restricted people flying in from the Hebei province of China, where the virus originated, from entering the country. Gradually, Channel News Asia noted, the restrictions extended to people of all nationalities who had been in China during their recent travel history.
Once the first local COVID death was reported, the Singaporean government restricted all short-term travellers from entering and transiting through Singapore.
Not long after, Singapore reacted swiftly by enforcing what was termed the ‘Circuit Breaker’ (CB) measure to stop the spread of the coronavirus. The order was executed nationwide in April 2020. Three phases were to be implemented after CB, to gradually open up the country back to normalcy.
The measures included mandating non-essential workers to work from home, a mandatory mask-wearing policy, closure of schools and non-essential businesses. The Singaporean government also passed a bill on April 7, banning all social gatherings of any size in both private and public spaces, Channel News Asia reported.
To ensure that citizens do not violate any of the measures, the Singaporean government would penalise offenders with a fine not exceeding SGD$20,000, and/or an imprisonment term of up to 12 months — one of the highest penalties imposed on COVID rulebreakers in the world.
The combination of strictly enforced regulations and the cooperation of its citizens allowed Singapore to control the spread of COVID-19 cases in the island nation.
Singapore’s control measures were so effective that it gave the country the reputation of having the lowest case fatality rate in the world, a title that it still holds, being at 0.05% versus the worldwide average of 4.34%.
Singapore has opened up its country up to phase 3 of its planned post-‘Circuit Breaker’ measures, which allowed for normalcy to return in the country with certain restrictions still in place.
Singapore’s effective management of the virus has even led to talks of opening up a travel bubble with Hong Kong that was initially due to open in November 2020. However, due to a slight spike in coronavirus cases in Hong Kong and Singapore, the travel bubble’s reopening was rescheduled to May 2021, according to Channel News Asia.
By Joe Cusmano