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Image / Editorial

Charlie in Singapore: ‘On average, I have my temperature taken 6 times a day’


by IMAGE
30th Mar 2020

In the midst of the Coronavirus crisis IMAGE has reached out to women all over the world to hear how the disease is impacting their lives and their country. Charlie Wright is a Project Manager living in Singapore, she is originally from the UK 


Singapore was one of the first countries that had a confirmed case of COVID-19 outside of China, and for a month or so no one seemed too concerned. Singapore has a Disease Outbreak Response Condition (DORSCON) system, which is a framework to provide everyone with general guidelines on what needs to be done to prevent/reduce the impact of infections and takes into account the current disease situation overseas; how transmissible the disease is; how likely it is to arrive in Singapore and; what impact it may have on Singapore’s community.
In mid-February, the Singapore Government moved the DORSCON level to Amber, which caused mass panic amongst Singaporeans. People were queueing for hours, spilling out onto the streets to get into the supermarkets and the online supermarket delivery slots were booked so quickly, you struggled to get a slot for 3 weeks down the line. However, within a few days, normal service resumed, all supermarkets were fully stocked, and we have had no panic buying since.
Everyone must have their temperatures taken to enter most public areas…On average, I have my temperature taken 6 times a day
As part of moving to DORSCON level Amber, everyone must have their temperatures taken to enter most public areas; my office, gym, beauticians, some condominiums; and if your temperature is over 37.5 you get turned away and sent straight to the hospital. On average, I have my temperature taken 6 times a day and even though I know I am not unwell, there’s always a small part of me that worries I’ll be over 37.5.
Around 8pm every evening, the government sends a message containing numbers on how many new cases there were that day
One of the things I think which has worked incredibly well and has prevented the spread of “fake news” is the daily WhatsApp chat locals and residents can sign up to. Around 8pm every evening, the government sends a message containing numbers on how many new cases there were that day, how many have recovered, how many are still in hospital and they also use this messaging service to update on any travel restrictions or social distancing suggestions.

Separated by a continent

In recent weeks, as the situation has worsened across the globe, Singapore has become very strict on travel restrictions, which I believe is fair and needed but also quite scary for someone like myself who is a work pass holder. If I were to leave Singapore to come back to the UK for a week, I would not be allowed back into Singapore. And there is no telling when they would lift this ban.
The hardest thing for me is not having the option to get home and see family. There is something truly distressing about being separated by a continent, and knowing if you leave the country you are living in to see your loved ones, you cannot return back home. Thank goodness for WhatsApp and FaceTime.
Despite all of the uncertainty and amidst the occasional tears, I really do feel safe here. The medical facilities we have access to are second to none
We now work from home and haven’t been into the office for a few weeks. Our bars, cinemas etc are now shut and as our numbers steadily increase, so do our restrictions, but they are nothing like the restrictions Europe and the US are experiencing. We are still able to wander to the shops, go to the park and beach and meet up with friends (just no more than 10 people at a time!).
Despite all of the uncertainty and amidst the occasional tears, I really do feel safe here. The medical facilities we have access to are second to none, and the government have announced they will cover all expenses relating to COVID-19, even for work pass holders.
After a few weeks of being in self-isolation, I am learning to take the rough with the smooth and have accepted that some days are just going to be plain tough, but that is ok and one day, I might finally get to visit Kruger National Park where I should have been going in a few weeks’ time!

Read more: Mary in Marseille: ‘I have lived and worked in many trouble spots where lockdowns and curfews were common’

Read more: Alex in Barcelona: ‘My kids and I have not left our 90sm apartment in 16 days’

Read more: Eimear in Surrey: ‘I got a temperature and a headache. I went into a deep depression and panic’

Read more: Emma in Sydney: ‘I have to say, home has never felt so far away’

Read more: From Singapore to Sydney: Women around the world tell us how coronavirus is impacting their lives

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