It has been 2 months since Singapore first entered into its “circuit breaker” period, which saw businesses shuttered and non-essential employees working from home, in a bid to curb the spread of Covid-19 cases in the country. While some stricter measures such as the closure of pet shops and hairdressers were lifted in mid-May, the country still remains largely shut down. But, as the number of new community cases continues to fall, the government has announced that Singapore will gradually start exiting the circuit breaker in gradual phases starting from 2nd June.
What is important to realise is that the lifting of these measures isn’t a sign that Singapore has successfully overcome the pandemic. After all, some countries that have already lifted their lockdown restrictions are now struggling with more new cases, such as South Korea, Germany, and China. It is therefore crucial that as Singaporeans start to resume their lives, we take all the necessary precautions to keep ourselves safe. Here are some precautions to take!
Needless to say, one of the best precautions to take as the measures are slowly lifted is to continue practising good hygiene. This includes regularly washing our hands with soap and water. It was found that washing your hands with soap and water can reduce the amount of germs on our hands by up to 45% as compared to just using water. Of course, it is important to wash thoroughly with the 7-step technique, which will help ensure every part of your hands are scrubbed clean. If you do not have access to soap and water, alcohol-based hand sanitisers are a good alternative.
Masks will continue to be mandatory whenever we leave the house, including throughout the workday if it is necessary to return to the office. If you are using a disposable mask, please do not reuse them after they have been soiled! This includes if they have been coughed and sneezed on. Instead, dispose of your soiled masks safely and responsibly in the trash. Viruses can still linger on surfaces, including masks, so it is imperative to ensure that we take steps to trash them properly.
For reusable masks such as the ones given out by the government, it is good practice to wash them regularly, preferably after every wear if you can afford to.
Good hygiene will be particularly important for children as they return to schools. While the number of cases infecting children remain relatively small worldwide, new research has suggested that they are just as likely to be potential vectors and should therefore take as many precautions to stay safe, especially while back in the classroom.
For example, it will be compulsory for students to wear either a face mask or face shield at all times while in school. All pre-school and primary school students will be receiving a face shield from their schools as an alternative if wearing a face mask all day is too uncomfortable. It will be difficult for children to adapt, but parents should take the opportunity to discuss and positively enforce, wherever possible, the need for such precautions.
During Phase 1, dubbed the “Safe Re-opening”, the country will only re-open businesses and workplaces that do not pose a high risk of transmission. This means that more Singaporeans will be able to go back to the office, though telecommuting is still highly encouraged wherever possible. Schools will also be opened, but with staggered cohorts allowed physically on campus on different weeks.
However, social isolation will still remain a necessary precaution during this phase. The government is not lifting the strict measures prohibiting social gatherings so we will not be able to go out and meet our friends or partners. Instead, the only social interactions allowed outside of the immediate household is with visiting parents and grandparents, though these will be limited to once a day, with only 2 visitors at a time.
While this might come as unwelcome news for those wanting to meet up with friends and other relatives, it is largely done to ensure that we do not have a second wave of infections and more importantly, a second, larger peak.
In fact, if during Phase 1, the number of community cases remains low, the country will enter Phase 2, where small social gatherings will be permitted.
By now, you would’ve heard of TraceTogether, the contract tracing app that helps identify those who were in close contact with an infected case through the use of Bluetooth. While over a million Singaporeans are currently using it, it still falls short of the percentage of the population needed for it to be an effective tool. Some reasons why people are hesitant to use it include privacy issues as well as the fact that it can drain your battery on iPhones.
But, good contact tracing is imperative in helping to track and isolate those who might be infected. The SafeEntry system, which tracks people going in and out of public spaces like malls, will have to be implemented in businesses and workplaces during Phase 1 to better track the movements of employees. Even so, it will not be able to trace those who are not entering buildings, such as those on public transport, in parks, and more.
One of the most important things to do as the country slowly opens up is to take care of your health. If you are feeling unwell, do not go to school or work and see a doctor instead. The cluster at PCF Fengshan preschool started because of an employee who went to work while they were unwell. We should continue to be socially responsible and make sure we do not repeat these mistakes as it only takes one sick individual to infect many others.
If you are showing any respiratory symptoms such as a cough, sore throat, or fever, you should see a doctor immediately, even if you do not think you have been in contact with any infected patients. The Public Health Preparedness Clinics (PHPCs) and polyclinics will provide subsidies for those patients with respiratory illnesses.
On the other hand, if you have non-respiratory symptoms like a migraine or stomach pains, you might want to stay safe at home by using our telemedicine services. This will allow you to have a video consultation with a fully-qualified doctor who will not just help you with a wide range of symptoms, but also arrange for your medicine to be delivered to your doorstep if necessary. If you need a medical certificate for work or school, this will be emailed to you.
People all over the world are now choosing to delay medical treatment because they are afraid of the risks of contracting Covid-19 if they go to the doctor or to a hospital. A survey conducted in the United States found that almost one-third of adults were choosing to delay medical care because of the virus. But, there are huge health risks associated with delaying medical treatment, especially for chronic conditions. Screenings and tests for patients with chronic conditions help doctors to determine if these conditions are being properly managed, if organs are in good health, and if medicines are at the right dosage.
Instead of putting off chronic care, there are ways that you can continue to monitor your condition at home. Speedoc can help with chronic disease management at home through teleconsultations, house-call medical services and medicine delivery. We also offer a package that includes blood panels, eye screenings and other important annual procedures.
To find out more about Speedoc and our services, you can make an appointment by using our online system here, download our app on the App Store or Google Play Store, or contact our hotline at +65 8180 8948.