Front-line Fighters: Battling public stigma during the coronavirus outbreak

SPH Brightcove Video
While many avoid crowded places during the coronavirus outbreak, these front-line workers - a taxi driver, GrabCare driver, and an SMRT station manager - keep Singaporeans moving every day.

SINGAPORE - When private-hire driver Mohamad Hisam Abu Bakar, 39, first read news reports about healthcare workers being shunned by members of the public, he wanted to help.

"I have family members who are healthcare workers, so we really appreciate the long hours that they put in," he said. "If helping them means sending them home after their shifts, why not?"

As a driver for GrabCare, an on-demand service for travel to and from hospitals, Mr Mohamad Hisam often comes into contact with healthcare workers.

"I have a nine-year-old at home. She got a mask from school and gave it to me because she said I needed it more. I was really touched by that."

To ease his family's anxieties, Mr Mohamad Hisam wears a mask daily and disinfects the interior of his car before driving. He also sanitises his hands after every cash transaction.

Like Mr Mohamad Hisam, ComfortDelGro taxi driver Harry Ng is happy to do his part.

Mr Ng, 61, experienced a 30 per cent drop in earnings after the Government announced that the Disease Outbreak Response System Condition (Dorscon) level was raised from yellow to orange.

Despite the financial losses, he believes that his passengers' well-being is his top priority.

His wife and children have told him to take care of himself, he said.

"But ... I also have to think of my passengers. I cannot be selfish by just thinking about myself. Passengers also have their own families to take care of," he said.

Mr Ng would wind down the windows of his car after every passenger alights. He also cleans the interior of his car every two to three hours.

Managing large crowds is all in a day's work for Mr Jam Hari, a senior station manager at Clementi MRT station. The 61-year-old meets about 110,000 commuters every day.

Mr Jam's wife insists that he wears a mask at work as he interacts with a lot of commuters daily, but he has refused.

He said: "Whenever we put the mask on, the perception of the public is that we could be the ones who are infected."

To reassure his wife, Mr Jam sanitises his hands using one of the 11 sanitising points installed at the MRT station.

Cleaning efforts have been intensified at the station, with cleaners wiping touch points with disinfectant every two hours.

In the second episode of the Front-line Fighters series, watch how front-line workers in public transport keep Singaporeans moving every day.

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