President Halimah pained by reports that some are treating healthcare workers badly

President Halimah Yacob at the Christalite Methodist Home as part of community engagement on Feb 13, 2020. ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN

SINGAPORE - President Halimah Yacob on Thursday (Feb 13) urged Singaporeans to stand behind the country's healthcare workers, saying she was pained to learn how some of them had been treated.

Madam Halimah wrote in a Facebook post that "it is up to us as individuals in our daily interactions with them to show our appreciation, support and empathy", echoing Health Minister Gan Kim Yong's remarks on Wednesday that showing nurses and doctors appreciation could "give them a morale boost to continue the fight".

The issue of how Singaporeans treat healthcare workers during the current outbreak has gained attention in recent days, with several widely shared posts about people avoiding healthcare workers on MRT trains circulating on social media.

Madam Halimah wrote: "So, it is really painful to read and hear about how our front-line healthcare workers are treated... Remember that they too are human beings and worry about their own health and that of their families as they plod on daily to take care of other people's family members.

"They had to cast aside their own fears and valiantly serve the ill out of a sense of duty and compassion."

Some healthcare workers have said that they have noticed people in public spaces giving them a wide berth when they are in uniform, and that some private-hire drivers have been reluctant to pick them up after their night shifts.

Some even said they are considering changing out of their uniforms after their shifts to put others more at ease.

Madam Halimah added in her Facebook post: "Why then do some of us make their lives so difficult at a time when we need them the most? It's a question that's worth pondering over. As I've said before, how we respond to this crisis defines us as a people... Let's do it the Singaporean way."

People and organisations across the island have recently rallied behind Singapore's nurses and other healthcare staff.

Some have penned them handwritten notes, while many Grab drivers have said they are keen to join a new service called GrabCare, which will help healthcare workers get to and from healthcare facilities.

Donations have also started pouring in to funds that go to coronavirus patients, healthcare workers and their families.

The Government announced on Wednesday that one million masks will be distributed to general practitioners and specialists in private practice, their staff, as well as their patients to keep them safe during this sensitive period.

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