We recently highlighted New Zealand’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. Now let’s take a look at how the island country of Singapore is dealing with COVID-19.
People have inhabited Singapore for centuries, and the island has been part of empires from India, Britain, and eventually Malaysia. The country gained its independence in 1965 and is one of the most important global trade hubs in the world. Did you know that Singapore is the only city-state and island country in the world? That means the country has just one city–Singapore–and no states. But this one city is home to more than five million people.
Singapore depends a lot on trade and travel for its operations. So when the first case of COVID-19 was reported on January 23rd, 2020, the country quickly put systems in place to stop the virus from spreading:
Strict routines: The government enforced temperature testing for people entering public buildings and workplaces, and safe distancing policies such as expensive fines for breaking the guidelines.
Contact tracing: The world has praised Singapore for being quick to track down every single reported infection using a system called contact tracing. The goal is to trace each point of contact an infected person could have had to see where else the virus might have spread. That means that within two hours of finding a new infection, caseworkers have details on who an infected person would have met fourteen days before they even showed symptoms.
Quarantines and isolation: Every single person coming into Singapore was screened and quarantined (or isolated) in government facilities until they tested negative.
However, the country now faces a second wave of COVID-19 cases spreading throughout the migrant population. So even though Singapore managed to limit the impact of COVID-19 initially, the second wave has forced the country to work even harder to detect and treat infected people. The country has now implemented stricter measures than before, shutting down schools and enforcing people to remain home except when shopping for essential supplies and emergencies.