COVID-19 SPECIAL: What's Trending

Covid-19: End of the lipstick and rise of the frozen prata

With masks a part of daily attire now and more cooking at home, surprising insights are registered online as we adapt, adjust, accept

Life has changed - tick.

Food habits have changed - tick.

Body shape has changed - tick.

Outdoor selfies have changed - tick.

Outdoor has changed - tick.

In the beginning, when work from home began, there was television. There was the possibility of watching endless shows the whole day or keeping the news channel on from morning till night and somehow replicating the noise of the newsroom that I was missing.

Now, the black rectangular screen thing with wires remains switched off most of the time.

Instead, there are new sounds that I am noticing.

They include the laughter of children from a house in the neighbouring block (nice that they seem to be in good spirits in spite of being stuck at home amid the circuit breaker), the twittering and chirping of birds from surrounding trees (yes, there is a difference between chirp and twitter), and the barking of a dog from the flat upstairs (after the initial irritation, I now feel concerned if I don't hear him for a good part of the day).

For sure, this situation we are in is difficult to get used to. There are small worries - will there be a long queue to enter the supermarket today? There are big worries - will I be able to board a plane to visit the parents this year?

However, as with the adjustment with the television and surrounding sounds, we will hopefully be able to adapt and adjust to the various other changes wrought by Covid-19.

It is the least we can do while front-line workers battle the virus head-on.

A woman applying lipstick next to people wearing face masks amid the coronavirus outbreak, in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, in March. With face coverings an inevitable part of our essential attire for some time to come at least, some are wondering about the
A woman applying lipstick next to people wearing face masks amid the coronavirus outbreak, in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, in March. With face coverings an inevitable part of our essential attire for some time to come at least, some are wondering about the fate of the lipstick, the writer says. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Like many others, for the first time I shall be clearing my annual leave later this month without travelling anywhere. At first, I felt distressed about "wasting" my leave. Now, I am looking forward to it.

Why, do you ask? Well, I decided to feel better instead of bitter, and have selected some online courses to explore during those days.

While browsing around for topics that interested me, I came across an e-mail from Class Central, a US-based listing of online courses, that said its site has received more visits from March 15 to April 15 this year amid the pandemic, than during the whole of last year. It registered 30 million page views in the one month compared with 21 million page views over the whole of last year, indicating a huge surge in interest for virtual courses during this time.


Employers too are also searching for ways to upskill their employees, a Google fact sheet about searches in Singapore shows. How to "arrange training for employees during coronavirus" was found to be among the list of top queries online during the circuit breaker period.

Apart from courses, I also find myself looking for more food recipe videos nowadays. While contactless food delivery is a welcome option, I feel varying the daily menu with home-cooked meals on some days is healthy.

Browsing supermarket aisles physically and recipe videos virtually have revealed two things - first, baking is a hit during the circuit breaker. Cocoa powder and flour seem to be perpetually out of stock. Second, frozen prata has a zillion uses - check out #frozenpratahacks on social media. If you want to know how frozen prata can be used to make puffs, tarts, pizzas, rolls and even you tiao when the real deal is unavailable, you know where to go.

Lunch was interesting for me - it was a last minute decision to cook porridge after the lovely downpour. And of course, how can we have this without youtiao! Then I remember commenting on someone’s IG post (I have short term memory whose IG account it was. 😅please let me know if it’s you so I can tag you) using frozen prata as substitute so I decided to try it out despite hating to deep fry. And tada! It sure looks like it in miniature version! 😂 it’s workable except it doesn’t have a chewy texture nor a familiar taste. The crisp pairs well with the porridge though. 😉 #whatadeloves #adecooks #lunch #sglunch #porridge #frozenpratahacks #homecooked #food #foodpics #igfood #foodstagram #yummy #homecooking #sgfood #cooking #sgcook #chefathome #circuitbreakersg #eatathomesg #stayhomesg #没有鱼虾也好
Here's another lazy mum's frozen prata hacks using Airfryer to bake. 😝 Cheese Puff Pastry~ You can use any kind of cheese 🧀. I'm using Ian's favourite Belcube Cheese by Laughing Cow. First thing to do, let your frozen prata thaw slightly first and preheat your airfryer 160°C for around 5 mins. - Cut into quarters and stack them on top of one another - Flatten them with a rolling pin or hand (I suggest putting the plastic wrap on the dough to prevent it from sticking to your pin or hand) - Cut them into quarters again - Add in one cube of cheese to each quarter piece - Seal the sides by pressing or use a fork - Brush the top with a brush (or the back of a spoon) with beaten egg - Airfry at 160°C for 8 to 10 mins - Leave it to cool on a plate/ cooking rack before serving (inside content will be hot) - For the sweet tooth, dust some icing sugar before serving Great for tea time snacks or even as party nibbles (when the entire COVID-19 pandemic is over and we can go back to having gatherings with family and friends). Stay safe, everyone! 😘 #frozenpratahacks #lazymumcookinghacks #cheesepuffpastry #airfryerrecipes #sgtoddlersnackideas #sgkidsfoodideas #cookingfortoddlers #singapore #SgFTWM #SgWorkingMums #sgmummys #sgmummies #sgmommies #sgmums #SgMoms #momlife #SgParents #SgParents #circuitbreaker

In fact, home cooking has seen "how to make" searches grow by 64 per cent on Yahoo Singapore during the circuit breaker period. This includes searches on how to make bubble tea, tapioca pearls, chicken rice, mua chee, cheng tng and mee hoon kueh.

On Google, "how to" searches soared to their highest level last month here. Queries on how to make bubble tea and how to make tapioca pearls grew more than 5,000 per cent after circuit breaker measures were further tightened from April 22.


While we may have all made and had dalgona coffee by now, a local twist on how to make dalgona milo also popped up among trending Google searches here. A YouTube video on it from March has about 412,931 views and 2,400 likes so far.

Trending "how to" searches are not limited to food and drink.

How to make masks and how to sew were among top searches in Singapore on Google last month.

Which brings us to another change brought about by Covid-19 - with face coverings an inevitable part of our essential attire for some time to come at least, some are wondering about the fate of the lipstick. "Now that it looks compulsory to wear face masks, what's the fate of the lipstick industry?" is a question that is being asked on Twitter by various people.

I am heartened to know I am not the only one who has applied lipstick before stepping out during the circuit breaker, only to slap my forehead in frustration when I realised I have to don a mask.

To overcome the dilemma somewhat, some enterprising people have designed masks with an image of painted lips on the outside.

Egg tarts baked using frozen prata as tart shells. ST PHOTO: ONG SOR FERN

I am wondering if I should start using my lipsticks as crayons for the new Straits Times colouring challenge.

Maybe I shall bake some egg tarts using frozen prata as a base and think about it some more.


With no visitor policies for Covid-19 patients recovering in hospitals, medical staff have been trying to provide the much-needed emotional support as well, spending time with patients and holding their hands during difficult moments.

But they know how much difference the presence of a family member can mean when one is sick.

After Boston nurse Jeanna Barbieri spent most of her shift with a critically ill Covid-19 patient, comforting her in her final hours, she decided to do something about making patients and their families feel more connected.

Moved by the tears and fears of patients battling the disease without their families by their side, she asked family members to e-mail her photos that would bring some cheer to those hospitalised. She then printed them out for the patients so that they could feel less alone.

That is how #picturesforpatients went viral.

"On Saturday I spent the last five hours of a patient's life with them. Not their family, not their friends... me. With very few exceptions, visitors are not allowed to be at the hospital due to the risk to themselves and others. We are there to fight beside and for the patients, and I know we feel honoured to do so, but at the end of the day we are not their family so, I'm starting a project," she wrote in her first post on April 16, which now has 7,700 shares.

I didn’t have a bad day at work yesterday. I spent 12 hours in triage, and admittedly had it much better than the rest of the team who were back fighting for critical patient after critical patient. More than ever, I had to say the phrase “I’m so sorry but given our current situation, we can’t allow any visitors at this time.” It’s easier over the phone, it’s not easy in person. Yesterday, I had to say this to a very understanding woman whose husband was checking in. With tears in her eyes, she hugged her husband of 57 years before he was wheeled back. Seeing the fear in their eyes, and the tears in hers is not something I think I’ll ever forget. One of these envelopes holds this man’s wife and daughters’ pictures and I couldn’t be any more excited to be the one to bring them into him. 💛📸 #thisiswhy #picturesforpatients #covidnurses
Two days in I have already been able to deliver envelopes filled with photos to TEN patients at Lowell General!! Not only that, but because of the amount of sharing and attention #picturesforpatients has received, more and more people are bringing it to their own hospitals as well! I never could have imagined this would turn out this way. I’m taken aback by all of it and truly can’t process it. Many have asked about donations and after a lot of thinking I have decided I will be accepting donations. All money donated will go only to supplies needed for printing and deliveries to patients, and anything left over afterwards will be donated likely through random acts of kindness to keep spreading the love you all are so willing to share!! Venmo: @picturesforpatients Paypal: Keep sharing, stay safe 💟📸 #picturesforpatients #somegoodnews

Ms Barbieri, an emergency room nurse at Lowell General Hospital, receives baby pictures, wedding memories and photos of family meals. Families of patients who do not have coronavirus and are not able to visit can also e-mail their requests.

"I think bringing in those normal life elements, having families and friends - it's okay to miss them," Ms Barbieri told Boston 25 News. "But you know what? Here they are. They're closer. They're thinking of you. I just think being able to do that for people is really huge right now."


HARI RAYA: There should not be Hari Raya visits or gatherings during the circuit breaker period this year, the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore announced on Friday.

DFS SINGAPORE: Changi airport's oldest tenant, luxury travel retailer DFS, has started to clear its stock before leaving the premises on June 8.

JIGGER & PONY: The home-grown cocktail bar at Amara Singapore hotel has clinched the top spot on Asia's 50 Best Bars list for the first time.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on May 17, 2020, with the headline 'Covid-19: End of the lipstick and rise of the frozen prata'. Print Edition | Subscribe