Harsh penalties for those who ignore regulations . . .
As of last Friday, anyone violating Singapore’s safe-distancing regulations or individual stay-home notices could face fines of up to C$10,000 and/or imprisonment of up to six months. The city-state’s COVID-19 response measures have been regarded as among the world’s most successful. Its high-tech capacity, authoritarian style of governance, and strict enforcement measures and mechanisms have all enabled Singapore to contain the outbreak effectively while keeping businesses and schools running during the global pandemic. There are currently 648 active cases in the country, 228 patients who have recovered, and three who have died.
Early preparation, new technology . . .
Following its experience with SARS in 2003, Singapore was well prepared to deal with the COVID-19 outbreak. It has enacted a whole-of-government approach to limiting the virus’ spread and it has enacted strict measures, including the imposition of travel restrictions, quarantines, and high-profile public health campaigns. Singapore was the first country to cancel all flights from Wuhan, China, to impose increased health checks at the airport, and to require the mandatory quarantine of travellers arriving from abroad. It is also one of the few countries to use phone apps to trace coronavirus exposures, the others being South Korea and Israel. Last week, the government introduced the Trace Together app, which helps doctors trace individuals who might have had close contact with infected people.
Lessons for Canada . . .
Aspects of Singapore’s approach to dealing with COVID-19 could offer several key lessons for Canada in the coming months, including its streamlined, whole-of-government delivery. Additionally, the implementation of daily health checks, including temperature screening by schools and businesses, have been important, as has the implementation of formal isolation for individuals with respiratory symptoms. Canadian governments and health authorities could also investigate the efficacy of tracing apps in the Canadian context.
- CNBC: Singapore says it will make its contact tracing tech freely available to developers
- New York Times: They’ve contained the coronavirus. Here’s how.
- South China Morning Post: Why Singapore's coronavirus response worked and what we can all learn