Forum: Singaporeans need to take Covid-19 as seriously as New Zealanders

I took the train to visit my father at Changi General Hospital on Sunday, the first day of Singapore's phase two (heightened alert).

There were certainly fewer people on the trains compared with the usual weekend crowds, but I noticed commuters talking to one another or on their phones despite prominent signs telling them not to do so.

There were also announcements in the various official languages urging commuters to wear masks, maintain social distancing and refrain from talking. Yet, there were commuters who ignored such simple instructions.

I sense a vast difference between Singaporeans' attitude towards this pandemic and the attitude of those in New Zealand, where I come from.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern coined the phrase "a team of five million" to fight the virus. Singapore has its "SG United" to rally the people. But how united are Singaporeans to fight this virus together?

When I left New Zealand in early March, Auckland was under lockdown with Level 3 restrictions as there were a few clusters in the city.

When the time came for the lockdown, people cooperated and were united in support of the measures. There were some murmurings and groans, but people generally played their part.

My good friend was supposed to drive me to the airport, but he immediately informed me that he could not do so because of the measures. I was not part of his "bubble" or small social circle he keeps to.

In general, I think New Zealanders are careful about maintaining social distance when they are out exercising or doing supermarket shopping.

When schools are closed in New Zealand, most students would stay home. During this period here, I still sometimes see schoolchildren out and about.

Unlike last year when the outbreaks here were mainly within foreign worker dormitories, the situation is different today - there is community spread.

The public should pay more heed to the consequences and perhaps be more civic-minded, taking individual responsibility as well as looking out for the welfare of their neighbours.

It is no wonder New Zealand has done well in its fight against the virus, and life is almost back to normal now.

I do not sense the same level of seriousness among some people in Singapore.

If the people are not united, complacency will set Singapore back despite the efforts and progress made so far.

I just hope that Singaporeans will be united to support the measures, with each person playing his part and being serious and responsible in adhering to the rules and measures.

Otherwise, all the efforts will be wasted.

Daniel Lee

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