Singapore—Immigrants from China have expressed their concerns that Singapore may see a repeat of what happened in their homeland, especially for those who hail from the province where the Covid-19 outbreak started.
A woman named Ms Chang, who now lives in Singapore but is originally from Beijing, told the South China Morning Post (SCMP), “Everyone’s emotions are in a mess right now. This is especially for those whose families are in the epicentre of the outbreak. They look at the virus in a totally different light.”
While cases of the Covid-19 outbreak have begun to die down in China, other countries such as Italy and South Korea are seeing an alarming upswing in cases confirmed for the novel coronavirus, which many Chinese in Singapore find worrisome, according to an article in SCMP.
Both Singapore and China have been lauded around the world for their efforts to curb the spread of the disease, with the stringent lockdown measures China enforced seen as responsible for slowing down the pace of the outbreak, but Chinese immigrants are concerned about infections coming from elsewhere.
One naturalized Singaporean who chose to be identified simply as Mr Tao told SCMP, “China’s methods to close off the affected cities have given Singapore some lead time to put in place measures, but there are new waves from South Korea and Europe that are about to come. They might have a greater impact on Singapore.”
Mr Tao had seen his father die in Wuhan, the city in central China where the novel coronavirus responsible for the outbreak originated, just two days after the city was put in lockdown on January 23.
He said, “I know how scary, pervasive and lethal the virus is.”
Mr Tao also told SCMP that he hopes the Government of Singapore will do even more to halt the spread of Covid-19, which has infected over 112,000 people and taken around 4,000 lives since the outbreak began late in December of last year.
Singapore has had 160 confirmed cases of Covid-19, with no fatalities and 93 full recoveries, although officials have told the public to prepare that some deaths may occur.
Mr Tao added, “The country’s containment measures are quite good and the rate of recovery is high, and I am satisfied. But the current methods might not be enough.”
He cited several measures that could help prevent an even wider spread of Covid-19, such as having students study at home and using remote applications so that they don’t miss their lessons. As a father of a child in primary school, he worries about his son getting infected with the coronavirus. He and his son, aged 7, walk five kilometers to school daily to strengthen their immune systems.
He also suggested postponing gatherings, even family events such as weddings.
In China, he said, people have taken to holding virtual events online. Cash gifts are transferred to people’s accounts digitally and food is delivered to guests’ homes.
An event responsible for 30 of Singapore’s positive cases for Covid-19—a dinner at SAFRA Jurong in celebration of the Lunar New Year—has come under fire from some netizens, who have called the organisers irresponsible for pushing through with the February 15 event even though the county’s DORSCON Orange alert had been raised only a week before.
Ms Chang also wonders why Singaporeans are discouraged from wearing masks since this ran counter to the advice given in her home country. “When we heard it, we were quite confused. We were wondering why the government would say such a thing. But after hearing their explanation and how it was part of a long-term solution, we accepted the explanation.”
Singaporean authorities have emphasized that only those who are ill should wear masks and that people should not hoard them as this could mean front line health workers, who need them the most, would run out.
According to Tan Ern Ser, a sociologist from the National University of Singapore, ““It is quite understandable that they are worried, given that the situation back home in China is particularly salient for them, more so than for Singaporeans, who are by and large confident of the government’s handling of the outbreak here.” —/TISG
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