UPDATE: An inter-agency Taskforce, made up of more than 750 government officials was created–specifically to handle what has been referred to as “Singapore’s underbelly of shame.” The strategy employed targets three key aspects: containment, prevention, and separation. The taskforce seeks to contain the virus in dormitories with clusters. It also aims to prevent clusters in dormitories with no confirmed cases from arising. Furthermore, foreign workers who work in the essential services industry are to be moved to separate government facilities, where they will be monitored and mandated to observe safe distance measures and remain at home after work.
Aside from this, the strategy entails focusing one three main aspects when it comes to caring for Singapore’s foreign workers. The first is their health. Mass testing initiatives have been put in place as doing so is critical in Singapore’s fight against Covid-19. Thousands of migrant workers have been tested to date, and the task force aims to increase its daily testing capacity to 40,000 by the end of July. Furthermore, foreign workers are ensured the same quality of health care as Singaporeans who are confirmed to have the virus, with the Government shouldering the cost. Another target point is the foreign workers’ welfare. Teams consisting of the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF), Singapore Police Force (SPF) and MOM officers have been stationed at the foreign worker dormitories to look after their well being. The third target point is the workers’ well-being. With this in mind, the migrants are provided with free internet access so they can contact their loved ones abroad, medical and personal care items, and even counselling services. Included in these provisions are morale-boosting allocations, such as goodies specific to the different holidays they celebrate.
The Government has also partnered with community initiatives and employers in order to care for Singapore’s foreign workers. The government has extended financial aid to employers so that they can continue releasing their hard-earned salaries.
Furthermore, the Government is staunchly set on “getting the recovery right.” It has also committed to improving the housing standards within the dormitories, and to give foreign workers the proper care as a statement of the nation’s appreciation for the immense contribution they make to building the nation.
After its disappointing loss of reputation as one of the world’s leading examples of how to effectively deal with the Covid-19 virus, Singapore has been called “one of the greatest failures in the world now” by an Australian communicable disease specialist.
At one point in time, the world looked to Singapore as a role model when it came to handling the Covid-19 virus. At a time when nations around the world searched in desperation for someone to follow, the small but feisty Singapore was there–serving as a powerful example.
However, the glory was short-lived as the tables turned unexpectedly, revealing major imperfections in Singapore’s armour and ultimately, causing the leading nation to fall from its throne. Despite Singapore’s wealth, it seems that less developed and less wealthy Asian countries have overtaken it in the race to get a hold of Covid-19.
In a recent report by ABC News, Vietnam’s jaw-dropping Covid-19 statistics was compared to Singapore’s. As of Monday (May 11), Vietnam had only 288 confirmed cases and 0 deaths, Singapore, which is around 461 times smaller than Vietnam, had 23,787 cases.
Referring to this comparison, Mike Toole, who is a communicable diseases specialist based in Melbourne, Australia, stated in an interview with ABC News, “Australia really focused on Singapore but Singapore is one of the greatest failures in the world now. Vietnam is not in that situation. I think it’s a remarkable achievement for such a huge country.”
Vietnam owes its success to the three battle fronts it focused its energies on–strategic testing, vigorous contact tracing, as well as comprehensive, strong, and successful campaigns. With these focus-points and rapid implementation, Vietnam has proven to the world that underdogs are more than capable of winning.
“The country probably acted probably faster than any country in the world outside China,” said Dr Toole.
At the onset of Covid-19’s first appearance in Vietnam, a task force was appointed to lead the nation in the battle against Covid-19. In less than a month, border control measures were implemented, and by the end of March, the nation had already suspended all international flights.
Low-cost testing kits were developed, mass testing was implemented especially in high-risk areas, testing laboratories were increased from three to 112 in around three months. Furthermore, the nation’s campaign was well-thought of, as it proved effective in informing people and getting them to see simple yet necessary measures such as staying home and washing hands as patriotic acts. “They didn’t pretend it was just like the flu,” said Dr Toole. “They described symptoms. They told people where to get tested.”
This, in turn resulted in the Vietnamese Government and its people coming together cohesively to form a strong, united front in the battle against Covid-19.