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COVID-19: How Singapore Continues its Fight against Coronavirus?

COVID-19: How Singapore Continues its Fight against Coronavirus?

SINGAPORE- In the first week of April, the Prime Minister addressed the nation stating the implementation of more stringent measures to contain the spread of coronavirus. He said that the coming few weeks are extremely important and the fight against the virus is going to be a prolonged battle. As the new cases of the coronavirus incessantly mount, the measures have been executed for a month to break the chain of the virus. This action has been taken in response to the increasing cases of local transmission unlike before where most of the cases were imported from overseas. It is most likely that there are many unidentified infected people who are inadvertently passing on the virus. Therefore, to prevent the situation from getting worse, the PM Lee Hsien Loong decided to take stricter measures from shutting down of various business operations to curtailing the movement of the people outside their homes. Mentioned below are five important takeaways from the announcement:

Closed Workplaces: from the second week all the workplaces have been closed down except the ones that run essential services including food, utilities, hospitals, supermarkets, and transports and banking services. This step would prevent the outside movement of the workforce and restrict physical interaction.

Learn from Home: all institutes and schools have been shifted to home-based learning. Even the preschools have been closed.

Restricted movement: no public gatherings are allowed and people have been requested to stay home unless there is some emergency. They are advised to avoid visiting their extended families and avoid panic buy as the supply of essentials would continue.

More financial support: additional financial support will be provided to the businesses and households in the form of temporary legislation that would provide relief from contractual obligations including repayment of loans, payment of rent, property tax, and others.

Encouraging face masks: in view of the latest guidelines issued by the WHO, the facemasks will no longer be discouraged. It has been stated that the facemasks can provide better protection from the virus. Hence, masks are distributed.

 How Singapore has managed to combat the outbreak so far?

The government announced various packages to manage the economic crisis due to COVID-19 pandemic in the form of Resilience Budget worth S$48 billion, using their national reserves which focus on the wellbeing of local businesses through tax rebates, suspension of taxes, loan schemes and providing support to self-employed individuals and low-income workers with new training programs and cash. Earlier in February 2020, the government announced financial support worth S$6.4 billion to extend short-term support to families and businesses.

Providing support to Businesses: the government had announced financing schemes, tax rebates and deferments, incentives and rental waivers to specific business sectors. To support the development of SMEs, trade loan financing scheme and Loan Insurance scheme has been introduced to manage businesses’ domestic and international transactions.

Protecting Workers: more than one-third of the budget is centered around the livelihood of workers. The monthly wage ceiling allowance will increase from S$3,600 to S$4,600. Several incentives are expected in the form of Jobs Support Scheme. For the next nine months, the self-employed group will be provided with S$1,000 per month.

Helping households: the residents of Singapore will receive a one-off cash payment starting from S$300 to S$900 based on their monthly incomes. The help will also be extended to each parent with at least one child. All adult Singaporeans will get 600 Singapore dollars.

Relaxation from fees and loans: for at least one year the government will provide relaxation from all government charges and fees, effective from April 1, 2020, to March 31, 2021. The repayment of student loans will be suspended for this year.

The government has also taken care of the aviation industry, the tourism industry, and the food & beverage industry. To further cope with the economic damage, the government announced a third stimulus package worth S$ 5.1 billion which constitutes 59.9 billion Singapore dollars making it 12% of total GDP with the country’s annual budget deficit to be 44.3 billion Singapore dollars.

Conclusion 

Singapore was one of the countries where coronavirus reached very early after China. The country’s effective response to battle the virus won them a lot of praise from people and experts around the globe including the World Health Organization. However, in the first week of April, the cases took a great leap adding 120 new infections making it more than 1300 cases along with six deaths. The economy of this Southeast Asian country has contracted by 2.2 % which has raised concerns for the government. Nevertheless, the government is doing its best to curb the health emergency and protecting its citizens.