Lianhe Zaobao launches Chinese-language book on Singapore's Covid-19 experience

(From left) Lianhe Zaobao executive editor Han Yong May, Chinese Media Group editor-in-chief Lee Huay Leng, Health Minister Ong Ye Kung and Lianhe Zaobao editor Goh Sin Teck at the launch of Covid Warriors: The Singapore Way on Jan 28, 2022. PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

SINGAPORE - Despite being a veteran teacher of more than 20 years, Madam Yu Lin felt great anxiety when all her classes went online.

"Even face to face, it was sometimes difficult to engage my students," she said, recounting the sudden shift to home-based learning in 2020. "And when this happened, it felt like I was a shepherd whose sheep had suddenly scattered."

Madam Yu, who at the time headed Serangoon Garden Secondary School's mother tongue department, turned to digital tools - including photo-editing app Meitu Xiu Xiu - to grade her students' work. And to her surprise, she found that her students adapted well and even thrived.

"I thought that they would have been even more flustered than I was," said the 57-year-old, who is now at Whitley Secondary School. "But they were actually much calmer... They were more willing to help and support one another with their work."

Her experiences - along with those of many other Singaporeans - have been documented in a new Chinese-language book called Covid Warriors: The Singapore Way.

The 204-page volume was written by journalists from Lianhe Zaobao and officially launched on Friday (Jan 28).

In addition to telling the stories of everyday people, the book captures the perspective of Singapore's leaders, including President Halimah Yacob and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

"Living with the virus involves a fundamental change in attitude," PM Lee wrote in the book's preface. "We have to respect the virus, but we cannot hold ourselves back in fear of it."

Speaking at Friday's launch event, Health Minister Ong Ye Kung said the book comes at a time when Singapore is entering a new stage in its battle against Covid-19.

For example, the country has gone from adopting a "zero-Covid" strategy to living with the virus, and from putting in place circuit breaker measures to implementing a safe reopening.

"Apart from outlining the Government's thinking at various turning points during the pandemic, the book also documents the efforts made by people from all walks of life as they worked towards living with the virus," he said in Mandarin. "It is a deeply significant and valuable record."

Mr Ong also took part in a dialogue with Professor Leo Yee Sin, executive director of the National Centre for Infectious Diseases, and Professor Wang Linfa, an expert on emerging infectious diseases at Duke-NUS Medical School.

They discussed, among other things, their plans for the coming year, and if there were societal changes they hoped to see persist even after the pandemic has ended.

Prof Wang highlighted his team's recent discovery that Sars (severe acute respiratory syndrome) survivors who had been vaccinated against Covid-19 developed "super-immunity" against the coronavirus and its variants - a finding that could pave the way to better vaccines.

(From left) Lianhe Zaobao news editor Yang Meng, Health Minister Ong Ye Kung, Professor Leo Yee Sin, and Professor Wang Linfa at a discussion, on Jan 28, 2022. PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

And Prof Leo expressed her hope that people have now come to a better understanding of how their individual actions affect the wider community. This is especially the case for vaccinations, she said.

"Not getting vaccinated is a personal choice. But if many people think that way, you will find out that you will not be able to attain high levels of protection in the population."

Earlier this month, The Straits Times also released a separate English-language book on the country's pandemic experience, titled In This Together: Singapore's Covid-19 Story.

Covid Warriors: The Singapore Way will go on sale at bookstores for $25 beginning in February. In This Together: Singapore’s Covid-19 Story is available now for $28.

Covid Warriors: The Singapore Way will go on sale at bookstores for $25 beginning in February. PHOTO: FOCUS PUBLISHING

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