COVID-19 A Singaporean Story Part 20 – The beginning

17 March 2020, Tuesday

Yesterday mark one of the key moment in history that many Malaysians & Singaporeans will remember for the rest of our lives.

Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin announced on Monday night (March 16) measures to restrict movement nationwide, starting from March 18 until 31, in a bid to stem the rising number of coronavirus cases.

The ripple effects cause a few natural reactions to everyone staying in Malaysia & Singapore.

Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing outlined some contingency measures Singapore will implement as Malaysia enacts tighter travel restrictions.

According to Chan, there are enough stock and Singapore faces no immediate risks of running out of food.

Yesterday 1.24 am, I was drawn into going down local 24 hours giant supermarket for some biscuits & can food for the next few days but to my horror there was a long queue of shopper with only ONE cashier.

To make the matter worst, one of the uncle behind me was coughing without covering his mouth multiple times and majority of the people there didn’t wear any masks at all even those who are coughing.

Even with my dust mask & goggle on, I’m genuinely scared. I gave up after about 30 minutes of queuing and went to the nearby Prime Supermarket & find the queue is less there and got home about 2+am!

To be honest, thinking back…maybe people cough around me when I’m wearing the mask & goggles just to tease me but who knows?

I remembered yesterday dinner near prime supermarket, there were some uncles drinking beer there say out loud “Pig!” in Chinese as they saw me wearing a special dust mask…I ignored them and go on searching for a table to sit.

As my my brother & me consume the delicious meal of fish ball noodles, one of the uncle seemed to be coughing among the other elderly in their table near us.

Before we finish our meals & conversations, those uncles seemed to move off hurriedly and telling the drink stall seller that the rest of their beers “不要了“ meaning that they don’t want what’s left on the table. Mind you, there are several bottles of beer still unfinished remaining.

The coffee shops seemed to be as crowded as usual and only a handful of people wear surgical mask to protect themselves, 100% of those eating are not wearing mask of course…including myself.

From now on, I will go with strict buy back home “打包” regime to eat meaning packing back home the food instead of eating at the coffeeshop.

Yes, many people may see this preemptive social distancing measures as “over blown” & think it’s ok…only 1-2% death rates…or it’s just the flu and they are healthy….shouldn’t be that bad.

But knowing the statistic from multiple sources online, it’s very very infectious & the death rates vary from country to country.

If you live in a country like Italy (Or UK/Spain/Germany soon) where the people do not restrict their movement even after the spike in cases suddenly discovered that their health system collapsed spectacularly with people in their 20s to 80s with severe pneumonia and the hospitals do not have the capacity to ward all of them in ICU with ventilators causing the nurses or doctors to decide who to rescue or who to left to die.

Guess what, they choose to rescue the younger people with less underlying illnesses because they know if they take in the elderly or people with critical underlying illnesses they will be fighting a losing battle while abandoning the younger less severe cases which can still be rescued with a chance of living a reasonable life with 20-30% lung capacity for the most severe cases.

It’s still unknown even if you survive the worst of the illnesses, will there be after effects of COVID-19 like permanent health problems by the survivors similar to many Asthma patients who have recurring asthma attacks at certain situations & probably will take a long time to fully recover from such conditions…which may need life time of expensive medications like inhalers.

Many people especially in the USA doesn’t know how expensive their healthcare & medications are until they are met with a serious sickness and still continue to go on party & mass gatherings.

Let’s talk about religions, It’s a taboo in Singapore to criticise any religions because of the sedition act.

That said, let’s strip away the “religion” aspect of the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic situations in the world.

Do you as a normal human being want to go to a mass gathering of people inside a room, church, mosque or building with fifty to hundreds of people singing & praying with the knowledge that there maybe a 50% chance one of them are severely sick and want to pray for “miracles” to eliminate the sickness.

Already in South Korea there is one known super cluster of infection because of such mass gathering of people, and recently Malaysia also encountered have such problem.

Singapore as well with two clusters in local churches and many of the followers are elderly as well.

Many of the COVID-19 infected patients DO NOT HAVE ANY SYMPTOMS and feel totally fine with just minor chills & feeling tired, many younger infected patients like kids still can enjoy their playgrounds without a care in the world only to return to their grand parents & infect them.

SERIOUSLY, do the social distancing RIGHT NOW and avoid going to crowded spaces & stay home whenever possible.

IF you really need to go out, only do it with extreme caution & wear a mask & glasses if you go onto crowded public transport. Try not to touch your eyes, nose & mouth like your hands are full of shit.

There are discussion about the COVID-19 virus are able to hang in the air for a while in certain weather conditions like cold temperature environment and different humidity and but there are many things that we do not know about this virus.

Singapore luckily have pretty warm weather & I believe the sun kills the virus in public areas rather quickly but indoors & most air conditioned public transport is a different situations.

Unfortunately, Singapore authorities had banned most electric powered personal mobility devices (PMD) from the pavement & the road right now with fines & confiscation of devices that violate the previous guidelines. This means food deliveries will have to depends on motorcycles, cars & vans instead, rising the cost of these delivery workers & increasing wait times for all people stuck under the Stay-Home quarantine.

Let’s talk about the possibility of election in Singapore, personally I feel it is going to be a real crisis if there is an election DURING this pandemic.

  • Any opposition parties will take serious risk going around & meeting up with the people in various constituencies probably causing large gatherings of people. This may cause some potential infection to the opposition parties as they move around & become a super spreader.
  • Rallies now even within the current 250 people or more limit at each venue will also be pointless & potentially another infection cluster(s) of COVID-19.
  • Many oppositions also find it hard to penetrate online via social media as the current PAP will have a permanent record of any wrongful accusations the government & can sue them for defamation or sedition.
  • I believe even under strict guidelines proposed by the local health task force & election committees, it’s hard to control the spread of COVID-19 infection when large crowds of people gather to queue during the election polling. Knowing not many people in Singapore wear masks because of the shortages of surgical mask & the strong believe if they are healthy, they should not wear a mask.

Many countries have already postponed their election to further date during this crisis and probably to their advantage.

I don’t see any advantage for a newly elected government can further improve the situation compared to the current party to manage this COVID-19 Pandemic.

Perhaps the reasons why Malaysia have such political turmoil because many MPs including the Prime Minister Mahathir (94 years old) are in the age most vulnerable to the COVID-19 Coronavirus virus and if any members of the government goes down because of the virus, it will cause a catastrophic ripple effects in the economy & cause unnecessary panic.

That’s why many Presidents & Prime Minister of the governments in some other countries often refuse to disclose if they get tested for COVID-19 like *cough* Trump *Cough*.

UPDATE: It’s reported that Trump tested negative for COVID-19 even after he came into contact with two individuals later confirmed to have COVID-19.

But knowing Trump, he won’t quit his presidency that easily….

So for local Singapore to have an election maybe a strategic move by local political party to push opposition party to make mistakes by doing dangerous rally during this COVID-19 Pandemic while saving the day by simply shutting down the possibility of an early election until the pandemic is at the downward trend or when the vaccine is available.

This however present some risks of the possibility that if any of our MPs start catching the virus & spreading within the whole members of parliaments hence shutting down the government just because many of the MPs are at the vulnerable age that may suffer more than younger MPs.

If this COVID-19 persist, I do wish our MPs get extra protections like working from home & conduct meetings or Parliament online via internet webcam & wear masks when they go about their businesses as I do not wish closure of our government during this crisis.

Perhaps they can appoint some potential younger generations more responsibilities during this period & can handle more in event of a shut down of government.

Similar to what America have when an attack claimed the lives of the president and most of the Cabinet in the television show “Designated Survivor“.

Whatever the result of this Covid-19 Coronavirus Pandemic will be, I really pray for the best outcomes from various lock down/ quarantine procedures by all the leaders of all countries & hopefully things will get better.

Lives will be different from now on, please have a mental preparation for changes in our behaviours & take this pandemic seriously so we all can survive in the end.

Stay positive, be prepared & survive!