As the number of cases continued to increase, we re-entered Phase 2 (heightened Alert) in order to curb the virus’ transmission.
It’s been a whirlwind of events over the past two weeks that caught many of us off guard. It felt like the effects of Covid-19 were finally wearing off our society and we seemed to be heading in the direction of resuming normalcy. However, the number of community cases started increasing once again to our dismay. Perhaps some of us feel a sense of frustration, others a sense of disappointment, and some of us may be simply apprehensive towards it because we dared not get our hopes up in the first place. Secondary transmission of the virus occurs in settings where our masks are off, like eateries and in households. As the number of cases continued to increase, we re-entered Phase 2 (heightened Alert) in order to curb the virus’ transmission.
Many activities are now suspended, including dining in at F&B establishments, strenuous indoor exercise class or strenuous individual and group indoor sports and exercise activities. Personalized services which require masks to be removed (e.g. facials and saunas), singing, and the playing of instruments that require intentional expulsion of air (e.g. wind or brass instruments) will also not be allowed.
All these restrictions took effect from Sunday, 16 May 2021 through to Sunday, 13 June 2021.
Despite having strict rules that proved effective in keeping community cases under control for some time, the number of cases of community transmission increased to 71 in the past week, up from 48 the previous week, and the number of cases without a link to known cases has risen to 15 over the past 7 days.
Singapore is not alone.
There are some other countries within Asia that are yet again facing new waves of infections of the pernicious Covid-19 which has tragically infected over 130 million people worldwide and killed nearly 3 million.
Though mass vaccination efforts have begun for many countries globally, India and Philippines are back in lock-down with tighter restrictions as they deal with the rising number of new infections daily.
Back in 2020, Cambodia hurriedly shut down entertainment venues and schools, ban domestic travel and close borders to avoid the worst effects of Covid-19. This pushed the total number of cases to fewer than 500 out of a 16.5 million population, which was good progress. However, the poor nation with an underfunded health system has been reporting large numbers of cases each day recently, which means a potential catastrophe is looming for the nation.
Over at Laos, there were less than 1,500 cases reported but the number of cases have increased by a whopping tenfold in the past several weeks, with the first Covid-19 related death reported on May 9.
Malaysia also reported 39 coronavirus related deaths, the greatest number of deaths in the country since the start of the pandemic.
In Vietnam, community transmissions began increasing sharply in mid-April although only 3,740 cases were reported since the pandemic began. Health workers have been instructed to be prepared for 30,000 patients and Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh said the new outbreak would threaten political stability in the communist-ruled state if not brought under control.
Muslim majority nation Indonesia braced for another wave of Covid-19 infections following Ramadan which ended just recently, calling for the difficult decision to induce a domestic travel ban.
Thailand is also combating another wave of infections which are mostly arising from Bangkok.
Vaccinations have moved apace for the elderly. But now, younger ones are catching up with the disease. More younger people are being admitted to hospitals with the coronavirus than at any other time in the pandemic.
No man is an island.
No country can stand alone in the battle against the pandemic.
Because as long as the coronavirus is spreading somewhere, it can spread everywhere. That is why no country has beaten the coronavirus yet.
The virus will not be eradicated unless every country has developed an effective system to detect and terminate the virus’ transmission near its origin before it spreads.
We are all interconnected in one way or another.
We learn from history that we do not learn from history.
In 2020, after MOH raised the risk assessment to DORSCON Orange, there were reports of people clearing out food and household items at supermarkets.
Photos circulated online of temporarily empty shelves.
The rush and desperation to stock up on essential supplies were unnecessary even with the status moving up to DORSCON Orange, as it is only a precautionary measure to limit the risk of the virus’ further transmission.
Singapore is not running into a shortage of essential food or household items. Stocks are available in warehouses, and stores have been replenishing their stocks. The Government also has a national stockpile for essential items.
Even with increased demand, supermarkets are ramping up their replenishment of high demand products. There are sufficient supplies of food, and supermarkets have been restocking their shelves.
Our supply chains are intact and there has been no disruption to Singapore’s imports.
In 2021 though, the same embarrassing phenomenon occurred with the announcement of the status reverting to Phase 2 (Heightened Alert).
After the Covid-19 multi-ministry task force announced tightened measures, long queues formed at supermarkets islandwide, as people stocked up on groceries and essentials.
As a result, Trade and Industry Minister Mr Chan Chun Sing had to once again reassure the public that retail outlets, including supermarkets, will remain open during the period of tightened measures. He also affirmed that stocks are adequate and our supply lines are intact.
NTUC FairPrice group chief executive Mr Seah Kian Peng also commented that the supermarket chain’s inventory and stockpiles are at higher levels than before, and it is better prepared compared with last year when the coronavirus broke out in Singapore.
There is no need to rush. What is more important is to look out for the more vulnerable among us and continue to remember to buy only what we need.
In 2020, there was discrimination against healthcare workers and racism towards Chinese nationals.
In 2021, there was a small minority of Singapore’s residents sowing racism against local and expatriate Indians. Tan Tock Seng Hospital healthcare workers were also refused by cab drivers, and turned away by some hotels.
Singapore Prime Minister Mr Lee Hsien Loong commented that he is very disappointed and seriously concerned that this racist attack could happen in Singapore. He understands that people are under stress because of Covid-19, and anxious about their jobs and families. But that does not justify racist attitudes and actions, much less physically abusing and assaulting someone because she belongs to a particular race.
Let us be more gracious and kind towards one another.
Do not become complacent.
There is no shame in being seen as extra careful.
Lulled into a false sense of security by what seems to have looked like falling disease counts, some people let their guard down. They are paying a price; no matter rich or poor, who largely escaped last year’s initial wave.
There is anecdotal evidence which points towards a phenomenon known as “coronavirus fatigue”, where people experience exhaustion after months of adjusting to the changes and challenges that the pandemic lifestyle has induced.
Some are already paying a price for this fatigue and complacency. In Malaysia for example, many schools in Selangor and Penang had to be shut in light of new Covid-19 clusters. The Malaysian health ministry reported 49 identified clusters in the education sector. While the government has tried to put a stop to the out-migration to the villages during the fasting month, it has kept the night bazaars open so people can access food.
No nation, particularly ones with large populations and high population density, can relax its guard.
Different countries are handling the pandemic in different ways. For some, strict regulations like physical distancing and mask wearing are mandatory, hand-washing and other habits that deter the virus’ transmission are encouraged frequently. Some others may not have such restrictions in place.
Public places have limitations to how many people are allowed inside at one time or completely closed off in some communities or towns while others have no such limitations. Mask-wearing and social distancing is strongly encouraged or even mandated by authorities in some places, but some are refusing to practice such habits, insisting that this is a matter of personal choice.
However, there is an irrefutable link between such precautions and the number of infections; the case numbers are controlled or decreasing in areas where heavy restrictions are imposed, while areas where fewer people are wearing masks and continuing to socialize and head out are facing a rising number of cases.
There is a higher propensity for the coronavirus to spread in places where people interact closely, such as some workplaces, long term care facilities, large households and prisons. For example, “super-spreader” events continue to take place at nursing homes due to people gathering.
As much as I value freedom of choice, we must understand that there is a price to pay for freedom.
The greatest threat to freedom is freedom without discipline and self-regulation.
If we want freedom without chaos, there needs to be certain boundaries and rules incorporated.
It is a near certainty that worldwide, there will be more Covid-19 deaths this year than were recorded last year.
With new variants emerging, many expect this to be a prolonged crisis
What is being suggested is that in estimate, this crisis could possibly be around another four years, at least.
Thus there is a need to build wider resilience.
We’ve seen and experienced the grave situation the pandemic has caused. With this, biological warfare can be a very real possibility in future because of scientific advances, making it a potential threat to our civilization.
Biological weapons are often called the poor man’s atom bomb, and they attract terrorists because they are relatively cheap to make while offering high returns by way of their huge psychological impact. on medicines, medical equipment, oxygen and supply chains – to build future resilience.
The weak links have to be addressed in every country.
Clusters usually form in places where there exist inadequacies in their defenses against the virus’ transmission. With the virus mutating over the past year into variants that have even higher transmissibility, infections are once again spreading extensively.
For ourselves, what is the weakest link in our financial planning?
No financial plan is complete without a safety net.
We can review with you in the Journey of W.E.A.L.T.H and H.E.A.L.T.H to address your weakest link.
As the variants of the disease have been detected, we have to keep changing and adapting to the changes.
Things change either for the better or for the worse in a snap now.
Small businesses are greatly affected, so they’re forced to go online.
Right now digital marketing is no longer just good to have, but a must have if we want our business to not just thrive but to survive.
The 3 Steps to Respond to Changes
As we embrace the changes, let us stay calm, stay safe, and stay united.
Together, we shall overcome.
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