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2020 coronavirus pandemic in Singapore

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2020 coronavirus pandemic in Singapore
DiseaseCOVID-19
Virus strainSARS-CoV-2
LocationSingapore
First outbreakWuhan, Hubei, China
Arrival date23 January 2020
(2 months, 1 week and 4 days)
Confirmed cases1,049[1][2][3]
Recovered266[1][2][3]
Deaths
4[1][2][3]
Official website
www.moh.gov.sg/covid-19

The 2020 coronavirus pandemic in Singapore is part of the ongoing global pandemic of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), a novel infectious disease caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). The first case of COVID-19 was confirmed on 23 January 2020.[4] To combat COVID-19, a Multi-Ministerial Committee was formed on 22 January with Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong and Minister for Health Gan Kim Yong as the Co-Chairs, along with other ministers and Prime Minister and Minister for Finance Mr Heng Swee Keat as an Advisor.[5][6]

Singapore contributed US$500,000 to support WHO efforts against COVID-19.[7]


COVID-19 cases in Singapore  ()
     Deaths        Recoveries        Active cases (until 24 Mar)
        Discharged to isolation[i]        Active cases (from 25 Mar)

Jan Jan Feb Feb Mar Mar Apr Apr Last 15 days Last 15 days

Date
# of cases
# of deaths
2020-01-23
1(n.a.)
2020-01-24
3(+200%)
2020-01-25
3(=)
2020-01-26
4(+33%)
2020-01-27
5(+25%)
2020-01-28
7(+40%)
2020-01-29
10(+43%)
2020-01-30
13(+30%)
2020-01-31
16(+23%)
2020-02-01
18(+13%)
18(=)
2020-02-04
24(+33%)
2020-02-05
28(+17%)
2020-02-06
30(+7.1%)
2020-02-07
33(+10%)
2020-02-08
40(+21%)
2020-02-09
43(+7.5%)
2020-02-10
45(+4.7%)
2020-02-11
47(+4.4%)
2020-02-12
50(+6.4%)
2020-02-13
58(+16%)
2020-02-14
67(+16%)
2020-02-15
72(+7.5%)
2020-02-16
75(+4.2%)
2020-02-17
77(+2.7%)
2020-02-18
81(+5.2%)
2020-02-19
84(+3.7%)
2020-02-20
85(+1.2%)
2020-02-21
86(+1.2%)
2020-02-22
89(+3.5%)
2020-02-23
89(=)
2020-02-24
90(+1.1%)
2020-02-25
91(+1.1%)
2020-02-26
93(+2.2%)
2020-02-27
96(+3.2%)
2020-02-28
98(+2.1%)
2020-02-29
102(+4.1%)
2020-03-01
106(+3.9%)
2020-03-02
108(+1.9%)
2020-03-03
110(+1.9%)
2020-03-04
112(+1.8%)
2020-03-05
117(+4.5%)
2020-03-06
130(+11%)
2020-03-07
138(+6.2%)
2020-03-08
150(+8.7%)
2020-03-09
160(+6.7%)
2020-03-10
166(+3.8%)
2020-03-11
178(+7.2%)
2020-03-12
187(+5.1%)
2020-03-13
200(+7.0%)
2020-03-14
212(+6.0%)
2020-03-15
226(+6.6%)
2020-03-16
243(+7.5%)
2020-03-17
266(+9.5%)
2020-03-18
313(+18%)
2020-03-19
345(+10%)
2020-03-20
385(+12%)
2020-03-21
432(+12%) 2(n.a.)
2020-03-22
455(+5.3%) 2(=)
2020-03-23
509(+12%) 2(=)
2020-03-24
558(+10%) 2(=)
2020-03-25
631(+13%) 2(=)
2020-03-26
683(+8.2%) 2(=)
2020-03-27
732(+7.2%) 2(=)
2020-03-28
802(+10%) 2(=)
2020-03-29
844(+5.2%) 3(+50%)
2020-03-30
879(+4.1%) 3(=)
2020-03-31
926(+5.3%) 3(=)
2020-04-01
1,000(+8.0%) 3(=)
2020-04-02
1,049(+4.9%) 4(+33.3%)
Based on confirmed cases reported daily by the Ministry of Health correct as of 12pm on the day of the update.[8]

Notes:

  1. ^ From 25 March 2020 onwards, cases who are clinically well enough to be discharged from medical care but still test positive for COVID-19 are discharged to isolation and cared for at Concord International Hospital, Mount Elizabeth Hospital, Gleneagles Hospital and the Community Isolation Facility at D’Resort NTUC.[9]

Statistics

The top plot shows the total number of cases as a function of time (by date) since 23 January 2020, the date of the first reported case in Singapore. The bottom plot shows the number of new cases as reported each day.

The following graph re-plots the top graph as shown above but with the vertical axis on a logarithmic scale. In such a plot (known as a semi-log plot), an exponential growth in the number of cases will appear as a straight line on the graph. The slope of the straight line determines the rate of growth of the number of cases, with a steeper slope representing a higher growth rate.

More plots

\

Case details

As of 2 April 2020, there are a total of 1,049 confirmed cases with 266 discharged,[10] as well as 4 confirmed deaths.[11] On the same day, there were 118 untraced cases out of 1,049, for which contact tracing is ongoing.[12]

Throughout the outbreak, several clusters were discovered; namely the Life Church and Missions Singapore, Yong Thai Hang health products shop, a business meeting at Grand Hyatt hotel,[13] the Seletar Aerospace Heights construction site, the Grace Assembly of God,[14] Wizlearn Technologies (an e-learning firm at Singapore Science Park),[15] a private singing event at SAFRA Jurong,[16] a PAP Community Foundation centre in Fengshan, Dover Court International School,[17] SingPost Centre, The Wedding Brocade at Yishun,[18] S11 Dormitory  @  Punggol, the Wilby Residences, Hero's,[19] Westlite Toh Guan dormitory,[20] Lee Ah Mooi Old Age Home, the 55 Sungei Kadut Loop dormitory,[21] Mustafa Centre, Keppel Shipyard and Maxwell MRT station construction site.[10]


Untraced[notes 1] confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection cases in Singapore ()

Date[notes 2] Case count Source
12 February 2020 9 [22][notes 3]
13 February 2020 7 [23]
14 February 2020 9 [24]
15 February 2020 8 [25]
16 February 2020 7 [26]
17 February 2020 7 [27]
18 February 2020 7 [28]
19 February 2020 8 [29]
20 February 2020 9 [30]
21 February 2020 8 [31]
22 February 2020 9 [32]
23 February 2020 9 [33]
24 February 2020 9 [34]
25 February 2020 9 [35]
26 February 2020 11 [36]
27 February 2020 10 [37]
28 February 2020 10 [38]
29 February 2020 10 [39]
1 March 2020 11 [40]
2 March 2020 11 [41]
3 March 2020 11 [42]
4 March 2020 12 [43]
5 March 2020 12 [44]
6 March 2020 12 [45]
7 March 2020 13 [46]
8 March 2020 14 [47]
9 March 2020 14 [48]
10 March 2020 9 [49]
11 March 2020 10 [50]
12 March 2020 9 [51]
13 March 2020 10 [52]
14 March 2020 11 [53]
15 March 2020 11 [54]
16 March 2020 12 [55]
17 March 2020 16 [56]
18 March 2020 17 [57]
19 March 2020 23 [58]
20 March 2020 24 [59]
21 March 2020 29 [60]
22 March 2020 31 [61]
23 March 2020 31 [62]
24 March 2020 41 [63]
25 March 2020 44 [64]
26 March 2020 42 [65]
27 March 2020 58 [66]
28 March 2020 67 [67]
29 March 2020 71 [68]
30 March 2020 79 [69]
31 March 2020 93 [70]
1 April 2020 115 [71]
2 April 2020 118 [72]
Notes:
  1. ^ An untraced case in this table means that the case has no known link to any other case.
  2. ^ Date of count of untraced cases.
  3. ^ "Cases with no known links" in infographic.

History

  • 23 January: The first case in Singapore was confirmed, involving a 66-year-old Chinese national from Wuhan who flew from Guangzhou via China Southern Airlines flight CZ351 with nine companions. He stayed at Shangri-La's Rasa Sentosa Resort and Spa. Contact tracing subsequently commenced.[4]
  • 4 February: The first few cases originating from local transmission were reported. Yong Thai Hang, a shop that mainly serves Chinese tourists, was identified as the locus of the infection, where four women without recent history of travel to China contracted the virus.[73] On the same day, the first recovery was reported as Case 7, a 35-year-old Chinese male from Wuhan who was discharged from the National Centre for Infectious Diseases after testing negative.[74]
  • 7 February: Authorities raised the nation's Disease Outbreak Response System Condition (DORSCON) level from yellow to orange.[75]
  • 8 February: Lee Hsien Loong, the Prime Minister of Singapore, expressed his worry about some cases with no known chain of transmission of the infection directly from Wuhan or indirectly via cases traced in Singapore. He suggested that it might become "futile to try to trace every contact".[76][77]
  • 25 February: The Life Church and Missions Singapore and the Grace Assembly of God clusters were found to be linked to cases 8 and 9, as well as cases 83 and 91 through serological tests, the first such successful test in the world.[78]
  • 10 March: Singapore allowed 600 passengers to disembark from the Italian cruise ship Costa Fortuna, after being denied by Malaysia and Thailand ports with all passengers found to be well.[79] The majority of them left for the airport immediately.[80] The director-general of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom, has praised the government's approach to containment.[81]
  • 12 March: Lee Hsien Loong delivered his second address to the nation on the outbreak. He mentioned that the DORSCON level will remain Orange. He also stated that Singapore will not isolate from the rest of the world, taking temporary control measures instead.[82]
  • 21 March: Singapore recorded its first two deaths involving a 75-year old Singaporean woman and 64-year old Indonesian man. It was reported that the female had a history of chronic heart disease and hypertension, while the male had a history of heart disease. [83][84]
  • 25 March: 73 new cases were reported, with a new cluster of 18 cases involving a PAP Community Foundation (PCF) Sparkletots Centre. As a result, all PCF centres were closed for four days starting from 26 March.[85][86]
  • 27 March: An additional 49 new cases were reported, of which 22 were imported. There were 3 new cases that were attributed to a cluster at SingPost Centre, a packet processing facility. SingPost later clarified that those who had tested positive were two full-time members of staff and a contract staff, none of who had contact with the general public in their normal role.[87][88]
  • 28 March: The Ministry of Health announced 70 new cases which brought the total number of cases to 802. Of the 70 new cases, 41 were imported with 29 locally sourced. According to the Singapore Police Force, two officers were included in this new number of cases. There was a further case from the Sparkletots Centre reported on the 25 March and an additional two cases from the Singapore Post Centre reported the previous day.[89][90]
  • 29 March: The Ministry of Health announced that a 70 year old Singaporean man, Chung Ah Lay, had died as a result of complications related to COVID-19, bringing the total number of Singaporeans who have died from COVID-19 to three. He had been admitted several weeks earlier (on 29 February) to Singapore General Hospital and had a history of hypertension and high cholesterol.[91]
  • 30 March: 35 new cases were announced, bringing the total number of cases to 879. 26 were local and the remaining 9 were imported. There were three new clusters: S11 Dormitory  @  Punggol (4 cases), the Wilby Residences (7 cases) and Hero's[clarification needed] (5 cases). It was also reported that 16 cases previously admitted to hospital had now been discharged, bringing the total discharged to 228.[92] Health Minister Gan Kim Yong once again stressed the importance of social distancing. In addition, National Development Minister Lawrence Wong emphasized why lockdowns might not be sufficient.[93]
  • 2 April: MOH reported that 68 year old Indonesian man died in the morning due to complications related to COVID-19. This brought the total number of deaths in Singapore from the coronavirus to 4. He was a work pass horlder and had returned from Indonesia on 16 March. He was considered an imported case of infection.[94]

Preventive measures

January 2020

  • 2 January: The Ministry of Health (MOH) issued a health advisory and implemented temperature checks for passengers arriving in Changi Airport from Wuhan the following day.[95]
  • 20 January: Temperature screening at Changi Airport was extended to all travellers coming from China. In addition, individuals with pneumonia who had travelled to Wuhan within 14 days before the onset of symptoms were isolated in hospital.[96][97]
  • 22 January: Quarantine measures were extended to travellers who arrived from China and displayed symptoms.[98] After three more suspected cases were detected, a multi-ministry taskforce was convened to tackle the issues caused by the coronavirus pandemic. The MOH advised against non-essential trips to Wuhan[5] and expanded the travel advisory the following day to all of Hubei.[99] MINDEF issued two medical advisories to service personnel.[100]
  • 24 January: With the first confirmed local case, border control measures were enhanced and extended to land and sea checkpoints with the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority and Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore starting temperature checks from noon of that day.[101][102] In addition, schools asked parents to declare their travel plans and monitor their children's health.[103][104]
  • Between 23 and 26 January: Scoot cancelled flights to Wuhan over the virus pandemic, after a lockdown was imposed.[105] The suspension was later extended to 29 March.[106]
  • 24 January:
    • Holiday chalets were being prepared as quarantine centres. Some of these chalets had served as quarantine centres in previous outbreaks, such as the 2003 SARS outbreak and 2009 flu pandemic.[107] Measures such as temperature screening and quarantine facilities were put in place at foreign worker dormitories.[108] Transportation companies like ComfortDelGro, SMRT and private hire operators have since taken more precautions against the virus with hand saniters, disinfectants and masks provided. Advisories were also distributed.[109]
    • On the same day, a Scoot flight was delayed in Hangzhou for six hours after one passenger was sent for further testing, causing passengers and crew to be quarantined.[110] The flight returned with Singaporeans three days later.[111]
  • 25 January: MOH imposed a visitor limit of two per patient in hospitals to slow the spread of the virus. Some hospitals have discouraged children from visiting.[112]
  • 27 January:
    • Singaporeans were advised to avoid non-essential travel to China.[113] Temperature screening at Changi Airport was also expanded to all incoming flights from the next day, with extra scrutiny on flights from China and passengers from Hubei. In addition, people returning from China were asked to fill health and travel declarations and monitor their health with regular temperature checks for two weeks.[114][115] A 14-day leave of absence (LOA) was imposed on students and teachers as well as workers who work with vulnerable populations, such as pre-schoolers, the elderly and the sick, returning from mainland China. Students were asked to do home-based learning instead.[113][116][117] In addition to the chalets, university hostels at National University of Singapore, Nanyang Technological University, and Singapore Management University were prepared as quarantine facilities.[118] Other measures include expanded communication channels, cleaning protocols and disinfection of premises after incidents.[119]
    • Taxi companies like ComfortDelGro, SMRT, Premier Taxi and Trans-Cab announced a waiver of cab rental fees should any driver get quarantined.[120]
    • The government clamped down on false statements and rumours,[121] with the first being a HardwareZone forum receiving a Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (POFMA) notice on a false claim that one man had died due to the virus. The post is deleted a day before the notice is issued.[122]
  • 28 January:
    • Enhanced quarantine measures were announced for those returning from Hubei and those of a higher risk, coming after the detection of seven cases at that point. In addition, travellers from Hubei were denied entry from noon of 29 January. All forms of visas for Hubei travellers were suspended immediately.[123][124] A $100 allowance per day will be provided to those self-employed under quarantine orders, with home quarantine options available. Hospital bills will be paid by MOH for all suspected and confirmed cases of the virus as the illness is caused by an emerging disease.[125] With the restrictions in place, the Ministry of Manpower started rejecting new applications for workers from Hubei, with existing applications unaffected.[126] In a joint media statement by the Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) and the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), National Service (NS) pre-enlistees who had travelled to China and been due for enlistment were given a mandatory leave of absence of up to 14 days.[127][128]
    • Facebook is issued a correction notice over a post falsely claiming the closure of Woodlands station due to the virus.[129]
  • 29 January: Singapore Airlines announced a suspension of layovers from 30 January for cabin crew and pilots to Beijing and Shanghai, in a move to protect the safety of all crew. Jetstar Asia will suspend flights to Hefei, Guiyang and Xuzhou in China from 30 January until 31 March, after which the suspension will be reviewed.[130] In addition, Outward Bound Singapore camps in Pulau Ubin have been designated quarantine facilities.[131]
  • 31 January: Singapore announced that all new visitors with recent travel history to mainland China within the last 14 days will not be allowed entry into Singapore, or to transit through Singapore. It took effect on 1 February at 2359 hours.[132]

February 2020

  • 1 February: The government distributed four surgical masks to each household.[133][134] These masks are meant to be used by the ill in their visit to clinics. The distribution came after a scramble for surgical and N95 masks, hand sanitisers, and thermometers,[135] which led to shortages and price gouging.[136]
  • 4 February: Individuals who had recent close contact with people with travel history to mainland China were contacted in tracing as well.[73] In cases where detection of infected patients happened cross border, authorities would begin epidemiological investigations and identify individuals who had close contact of the case patient upon receiving notification, as seen in the case of a Malaysian who tested positive in Malaysia and likely to have acquired the virus after a meeting with colleagues from China, including one from Wuhan, in Singapore.[137]
  • 9 February: All Work Pass holders with travel history to mainland China within the last 14 days were required to obtain Ministry of Manpower's prior approval before attempting to enter Singapore.[138]
  • 14 February: The Ministry of Health reactivated Public Health Preparedness Clinics (PHPCs) and advised doctors to give five days of medical leave for patients with respiratory symptoms.[139]
  • 17 February: Stay-Home Notices were announced for all Singapore residents and long-term pass holders returning from China, taking effect from 18 February. They were not allowed to leave home within 14 days of arrival, with penalties for breaches.[140]
  • 23 February: MOH expanded its health advisory to Daegu and Cheongdo in South Korea after the number of cases there spiked quickly. The definition of suspect cases was also expanded to include travellers arriving from these two cities.[141]
  • 25 February: Singapore announced a ban on visitors arriving from Cheongdo and Daegu in South Korea from 26 February, following a large increase in the number of confirmed cases there. Singapore citizens, permanent residents and long-term pass holders returning from Cheongdo and Daegu within the last 14 days were issued a Stay-Home Notice (SHN) lasting 14 days.[142]
  • 28 February: Singapore biotech company Veredus launched a COVID-19 test kit for in-vitro diagnosis. It can be used by hospitals and laboratories to confirm clinical diagnoses with 99% accuracy in just two hours.[143][clarification needed]

March 2020

  • 3 March: Singapore announced a ban on visitors arriving from South Korea, Iran and northern Italy from 4 March, with Singapore citizens, permanent residents and long-term pass holders returning from these places to be issued Stay-Home Notices (SHN) lasting 14 days. In addition, all travellers entering Singapore with fever or signs of respiratory illness will be required to undergo swab tests, with penalties for refusal. The travel advisory was expanded to include Iran, northern Italy, Japan and South Korea.[144]
  • 7 March: The People's Association suspends activities and classes and activities attended by confirmed cases for 14 days, as well as all singing classes at affected Community Centres and Residents' Committees. This comes after several people from the SAFRA Jurong cluster attended these lessons.[145]
  • 10 March: MOH announced that government agencies will suspend activities for seniors from 11 March for 14 days. This comes after many people went out while unwell. In addition, social distancing will be implemented for other activities. Senior care services will continue running with additional precautions.[146]
  • 13 March: Singapore announced a ban on visitors arriving from Italy, France, Spain and Germany from 15 March at 11.59pm, with Singapore citizens, permanent residents and long-term pass holders returning from these places to be issued Stay-Home Notices (SHN) lasting 14 days. Singapore also cease port calls for all cruise vessels with immediate effect.[147]
  • 15 March: Singapore announced all people who enter Singapore with recent travel history to ASEAN countries, Japan, Switzerland and the United Kingdom will be issued with a 14-day stay-home notice. In addition, all short-term visitors who are nationals of any ASEAN country will have to submit requisite information on their health to the Singapore Overseas Mission in the country before their intended date of travel. Short-term visitor should have to be approved by MOH. Separate arrangements are being worked out for travellers arriving from Malaysia by land and sea checkpoints in view of the close proximity between the two countries. Travellers are also advised to defer all non-essential travel for the next 30 days.[148]
  • 18 March: Singapore announced all travellers entering Singapore from 20 March, 11.59pm will be issued a 14-day Stay-Home Notice. In addition, more social distancing measures could be proposed. Singaporeans are advised to defer all travel abroad in a bid to reduce imported cases.[149][150]
  • 20 March: The Government Technology Agency announced the launch of a smartphone app TraceTogether to boost contact tracing efforts by the Ministry of Health. In addition; more social distancing measures were announced, including suspension of IT Show, PC Show, and many events.[151][152]
  • 21 March: The Ministry of Manpower revoked 89 work passes for breaching entry approval and stay-home notice (SHN) requirements.[153]
  • 22 March: Singapore announced a ban on all short-term visitors arriving or transiting through Singapore starting from 23 March, 11.59pm. This comes after a spike in imported cases of COVID-19. Only people working in essential services like healthcare services and transport will be allowed into Singapore during this time. In addition, the Singapore-Malaysia Special Working Committee have agreed to have Malaysians with work permits to continue working in Singapore. Discussions are ongoing.[154]
  • 23 March: The Immigration and Checkpoints Authority announced that from 27 March, 9:00am, all travellers arriving in Singapore, including Singapore citizens and permanent residents, must submit a health declaration online prior to proceeding with immigration clearance. Those who do not submit their health declaration prior to arriving in Singapore will be required to do so upon arrival at the checkpoint. In addition, all hardcopy immigration forms will no longer be issued from 27 March.[155][156] On the same day, the Ministry of Health also mentioned that COVID-19 patients who are well and stable are being transferred to selected hospitals. 20 patients were sent to Concord International Hospital and 29 patients were sent to Mount Elizabeth Hospital. This is to free up space in public hospitals.[157]
  • 24 March: It was announced that from 26 March, any resident returning from the US or the UK would be required to serve out their SHN in dedicated hotels.[158][159] At the same time, returnees would be charged full hospital rates if they left Singapore from 27 March and were admitted to within for treatment of COVID-19 within 14 days of their return.[160] All entertainment outlets, nightclubs, bars, places of worship, attractions and tuition centres are closed from 26 March, and all mass events are cancelled regardless of size. Groups other than for work and school purposes will be limited to 10 people at any time, as well as for groups for diners and private worship. The remaining public places such as transit stations and shopping centres are required to reduce crowd density to one person per 16 square metres of space, failing which they will be asked to close. These measures will last and the review will be conducted. These measures took effect from 27 March, and it took place islandwide with 1m social distancing involved at all places in Singapore.[161][162]
  • 26 March: New regulation was brought in publish those who broke rules that were designed to stop spread of COVID-19 in the country, including those who breached their Stay-Home Notices. Punishments included jail terms of up to 6 months, fines of up to S$10,000 or both.[163]
  • 27 March: Ministry of Education announced that schools (Primary, Secondary & Centralized Institutes) will implement one day of Home Based Learning (HBL).[164]
  • 28 March: The government issued advice via WhatsApp that people should stay at home and should avoid malls with the exception of buying essentials such as food and groceries - which themselves could be bought via online channels.[165]
  • 29 March:
    • According the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority, Ministry of Education and Ministry of Manpower, all long term pass holders (i.e. long-term visit pass holders, student pass holders or those with an in-principle approval for a long term pass) were required to get approval for entry before they arrive in Singapore. The penalty for not having an approval letter would result in refused admission, turned around and pay for their flight out of Singapore[clarification needed] within 48 hours. Non-compliance will result in having their pass or in-principle approval cancelled.[166]
    • The Immigration and Checkpoints Authority cancelled the passport of Mr Goh Illya Victor as he did not abide by his Stay-Home Notice. He was not allowed to leave the country even though he is a Singaporean citizen.[167]

Impact

International praise

On 18 February 2020 and 10 March 2020, the WHO praised Singapore's efforts to contain COVID-19 infections through finding close contacts, quarantine them, testing every case of influenza-like illness and pneumonia, and Singapore's "all-government approach" in the containment of COVID-19. The Singapore Police Force, Singapore Armed Forces and Ministry of Health are coordinating with each other to do aggressive contact tracing.[168]

Socioeconomic impact

The ongoing pandemic is likely to have a significant impact on the local economy. On 17 February, the Ministry of Trade and Industry downgraded Singapore's forecast GDP growth to between -0.5% and 1.5%.[169] This is largely due to a slowdown in Singapore's export markets, disruptions in global supply chains, a fall in tourism and a fall in domestic consumption.[169] On 26 March 2020, Singapore's Ministry of Trade and Industry said it believed that the economy would contract by between 1% and 4% in 2020. This was after the economy shrank some 2.2% in the first quarter of 2020 from the same quarter in 2019.[170] On 2 April, the rating's agency Moody's downgraded the Singapore banking sector from "stable" outlook to a "negative" outlook on the back of rising bad loans and deteriorating profitability as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.[171]

Inflation

The overall inflation dropped to 0.3% in February 2020 on a year-by-year basis, the first time this decade that inflation turned negative. This was also due to supply chains being disrupted due to COVID-19.[172]

Impact on stocks

On 9 March, the Straits Times Index fell 6.03% owing to the impact of COVID-19, made worse by the oil price war.[173] The Index dropped again three days later by 3.8% after more measures are announced with the World Health Organization declaring a pandemic.[174]

Monetary Policy

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) brought forward it's twice year meeting from some time in April to 30 March.[175] The MAS has since decided to ease the Singapore dollar's appreciation rate to zero percent, as well as adjust the policy band downwards, the first such move since the Global Financial Crisis. This makes it the first time the MAS had taken these two measures together.[176]

Local shopping

The retail and food industry has been significantly affected by the drop in consumer spending. Foot traffic in shopping malls dropped,[177] with some malls choosing to shorten their opening hours.[178] Tenants are pushing landlords for rental rebates, citing significant drops in revenue.[179]

Several malls and landlords including Jewel Changi Airport and CapitaLand have implemented rental rebates.[180][181] The National Environment Agency (NEA) has also implemented rent waivers and rebates for all stallholders in hawker centres operated by NEA or NEA-appointed operators.[182]

According to CapitaLand, in February 2020 foot traffic at malls are almost back to normal.[177] However, on 28 March, after the government reminded the public to remain at home and not to visit places unless it was essential, the Straits Times reported that the famous shopping strip of Orchard Road was noticeably quieter.[183]

Events

After the 2019 Hong Kong protests, MICE business had been transferred to Singapore.[184][185] However, as a result of the coronavirus, many events were postponed with some even cancelled.

Postponed

EmTech Asia, was supposed between 25 and 26 February 2020 and was postponed until 4 to 5 August 2020.[186]

WFA Global Marketer Week, was originally supposed to be held between 31 March to 3 April. The event was postponed until 20 to 23 April 2021.[187]

Cancelled

The Shangri-La Dialogue defence summit was scheduled to take place between 5 and 7 June held at the Shangri-La Hotel.[188]

The 12th Pink Dot was supposed to be held on 27 June at Hong Lim Park. In its place will be a livestreaming session where people can tune in.[189]

Tourism

As one of the countries highly affected by the pandemic, tourism in Singapore has fallen, with the Singapore Tourism Board predicting a 25 to 30 percent drop in visitor arrivals from the previous year.[190] Several countries have imposed travel restrictions on Singapore.[191] Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong encouraged Singaporeans to go on a local 'staycation' to mitigate the fall in demand for tourism.[192]

Religious services

The Catholic Church of Singapore has announced that it is suspending masses indefinitely from noon of 15 February.[193] They were set to resume on 14 March,[194] but continues to be indefinitely suspended in light of the World Health Organization declaring a pandemic.[195]

The Islamic Religious Council of Singapore has asked Muslims to take precautions to maintain personal hygiene while the Singapore Buddhist Federation advised temples to cancel activities.[196] Some churches have opted to suspend services, live streaming them instead. Religious institutions have stepped up disinfection procedures.[196]

On 12 March, the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore announced the closure of all mosques for five days from 13 March for disinfection, coming after two people were infected from a gathering in Malaysia. Prayers were cancelled on 13 March, with activities stopped until 27 March.[197]

Hindu Temples and Sikh Temples also recorded a drop in the attendance. Hindu temples in Singapore have stepped up precautionary measures such as checking temperature of the visitors. Sikh Temple had to suspend their langar services. However, five private temple were providing langar on a smaller scale. Most processions were also cancelled.[198]

Malaysian lockdown

On 16 March, the Malaysian government announced a movement control order that would take effect from 18 March, preventing Malaysians from leaving the country.[199] With approximately 300 thousand Malaysians or almost a tenth of Singapore's labour force working in Singapore, the lockdown is expected to significantly affect Singapore's economy, including sectors providing essential services.[200]

The lockdown caused long queues at immigration checkpoints as Malaysian workers in Singapore scrambled to collect their belongings and return to Singapore, while Singaporeans returned home.[201] Various firms across Singapore rushed to find temporary accommodation for their workers before the lockdown took effect.[202] The Singapore government has advised workers to try to stay with relatives, friends, and colleagues, and seek housing in hotels, dormitories and rental flats if this is not possible.[203] The government is also providing $50 for each worker per day, up to 14 days to support employers finding accommodation.[204] As of 17 March, the government announced that 10,000 Malaysian workers have been matched with temporary housing.[204] Some workers could not immediately find accommodations and resorted to sleeping in public areas.[205] Authorities, in addition to the monetary offer above, had other measures in place, Ministry of Social and Family Development repurposed Jurong East Sports Hall into a temporary relief area for remaining Malaysian workers who were unable to find temporary accommodations immediately after the lockdown, while Ministry of Manpower stepping up patrols to look out for such stranded workers.[206] A number of residents also had stepped up to offer their spare rooms to accommodate Malaysian workers at little to no costs.[207]

The lockdown resulted in suspension of all bus services between Johor Bahru and Singapore. While train service (KTMB Shuttle Tebrau) continues to operate between the two checkpoints, only citizens returning to their respective countries are allow to board.[208] The lockdown also sparked fears of food shortages, triggering a second wave of panic buying and hoarding of essential items (see below).

Panic buying and price gouging

Panic buying and price gouging of personal protective equipment (PPEs) such as masks began with the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in Singapore on 23 January 2020.[4] By 24 January, both N95 and surgical masks had run out at retail outlets.[209] The Ministry of Health assured the public that there were sufficient N95 masks in the event of a surge in demand.[209] This has prompted local retailers including NTUC FairPrice, Watsons and Guardian to impose limits on the number of masks, hand sanitisers and thermometers each consumer can buy.[210] The government has urged the public to only wear masks if they are unwell, citing unsustainable consumption patterns and the possibility of a false sense of security.[211][212]

The shortage of masks and other PPEs has caused many retailers to engage in profiteering by price gouging and scalping.[136] This included both local brick-and-mortar stores as well as retailers on ecommerce platforms.[136][213] The government has applauded platforms Carousell and Qoo10 for threatening to suspend profiteerers.[213] The governmental price controller has also issued warnings to retailers who engage in price gouging and requested information from e-commerce platforms on potential profiteers.[136][214][215]

Panic buying and hoarding of essentials such as rice, instant noodles and toilet paper occurred with the raising of the DORSCON level from yellow to orange on 7 February 2020, with empty shelves at supermarkets within hours.[216] In response, both the government and local retailers stated that there was sufficient supply of essentials, urging Singaporeans not to hoard.[217][218] Local supermarket chain NTUC Fairprice imposed limits on the amount of essentials each consumer can buy, with these limits initially set for paper products, rice products, instant noodle packets and vegetables.[219] NTUC Fairprice and Dairy Farm Singapore announced that it would introduce specific hours for those members of the community who were more vulnerable such as Pioneer Generation members.[220]

A second wave of panic buying and hoarding occurred on 17 March when Malaysia announced its lockdown from 18 March, sparked by fears of food shortages. The government has clarified that the flow of goods, cargo and food supplies between Singapore and Malaysia will continue, urging the public not to panic buy. They added that Singapore has diverse sources of essential goods and was not facing an immediate shortage of food or essentials.[221] NTUC Fairprice has expanded its list of items that are limited per consumer to include eggs, vegetables and poultry.[222] 10 days later, NTUC FairPrice expanded its list to include canned food, cooking oil and frozen meat, with reduced purchasing limits for paper products.[223]

In order to deal with the massive increase in online shopping orders, RedMart on 2 April said that it would prioritise daily essentials such as milk powder, flour, eggs and rice while limiting orders to 35 items and reducing its range of goods to focus on the essentials. At the same time, it said that it would stop taking orders until 4 April to implement additional measures. [224]

Scams

Several parties have engaged in scams related to the pandemic. For instance, scammers have pretended to be MOH officials engaging in contact tracing.[225] The MOH and police clarified that no financial details or transfer of money will be requested during contact tracing.[226] The police have also arrested scammers on e-commerce platform Carousell.[227]

Transportation

Taxi and private hire vehicles were hit by the impact of COVID-19. A S$77 million package was provided to help them tide through this period, co-funded by the Government, taxi and private-hire companies. In addition, a S$2.7 million fund was set up by the Government and National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) for drivers who are not eligible.[228] In view of the worsening coronavirus impact, the package will be enhanced from May 2020, extending until September 2020. This will cost an additional $95 million.[229]

Similarly, train and bus ridership were reduced as a result of the COVID-19 since February 2020. Social distancing measures began on 27 March 2020 (Friday) and this also affects bus and train services as well. This includes leaving seat gaps on the trains and buses; ensuring that the total bus and train capacity is not more than 70%; encouraging commuters to use bank cards in public transit (SimplyGo) and encouraging those who continue to use CEPAS cards to top up online through the SimplyGo account. In addition; selected entrances/exits were restricted.

Various banks have suggested that Singapore Airlines will have a loss in FY21, with OCBC credit analysts Ezien Hoo and Wong Hong Wei arguing that the airline will have to tap the markets for more funds and possibly even need state support.[230]

Singapore Airlines, SilkAir and Scoot have announced plans to slash their capacity. Singapore Airlines will be slashing 96% of its capacity until end-April. The news resulted in STI crashing down by 164.63 (6.83%). Scoot will ground 47 out of the 49 planes they have in their fleet.[231]

Singaporeans abroad

On 19 March 2020, Singapore Airlines and the Singapore Ministry of Foreign Affairs agreed to work together to help bring back Singaporeans stuck in the UK as a result of the pandemic. The arrangement made was to prioritise students but also to bring back Singaporeans and Singapore Permanent Residents with the aim for the exercise to be completed by the end of March.[232][233] Singaporeans who were returning from the US and the UK were also required to spend the 14 day SHN period at hotels designated by the Singapore government. This was designed to help prevent any possible spread of the covid-19 virus to the general population as these two countries were the most significant cohorts arriving back into Singapore. Lawrence Wong the National Development minister and also co-head of teh covid-19 multi-ministry task force said some 1,200 people a day were arriving from those two countries.[234] During the stay at the hotel, the returnee would get their own room as well as have meals provided. The government designated this as a mandatory requirement so therefore the cost of the hotels would be borne by the government.[235] While it was not officially announced which hotels were being used for this enforced stay at home notice, it was reported that these included: Shangri-La's Rasa Sentosa Resort & Spa, Grand Park Orchard, the Village Hotel Albert Court, Village Hotel Sentosa, The Elizabeth Hotel and Swissotel the Stamford.[236][237]

Economic measures

First stimulus package

In the 2020 Budget delivered on 18 February, the Government has set aside S$6.4 billion in support funds,[238] which are a S$1.6 billion Care and Support Package for household expenses,[239] a S$4 billion Stabilisation and Support Package for businesses and workers[240] and an additional S$800 million for efforts including the healthcare sector. In addition, the Goods and Services Tax will not be raised by 9% in 2021 owing to the economic impact, with a S$6 billion Assurance Package should it be raised by 2025.[241]

Second stimulus package

Less than a month after the first budget support package was introduced, it was announced that the government was working a second stimulus package to mitigate the effects of the outbreak on the economy.[242] The package was delivered in a Ministerial Statement by DPM Heng Swee Keat on 26 March, known as the so-called Resilience Budget.[243] The coronavirus has hit the economy so hard that President Halimah had given her 'in-principle support' to draw on past reserves for this second package, which will amount to S$17 billion.[244] In addition to S$6.4 billion announced in the first package, the government is prepared to spend a further S$48.4 billion to support businesses, workers and families. In total, this would be some 11% of GDP.

The package would focus on 3 key areas: Save jobs, support workers and protect livelihoods; Help enterprise overcome immediate challenges; Strengthen economic and social resilience.

Among the measures include increasing government co-funding of wages for local workers from 8% to 25%, while those in food services would get support of 50%, and those in the aviation sector would get 75% support, up until the end of 2020. For those self employed they would receive assistance of S$1,000 per month until the end of 2020.

The government would try its level best to have the aviation rebound to the times it was booming. A $350 million aviation support package was introduced to fund the measures such as rebates on waiving off parking charges.[245]

In spite of this large spending package, it was reported that several private sector economists were still expecting the economic to contract in 2020.[246]

Controversies

On 17 February 2020, a leaked recording of a closed-door dialogue session on 10 February of Chan Chun Sing with business people from the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCCI) went viral in Singapore. In the leaked audio, Chan talked about the recent panic-buying of groceries, Singapore's approach to the current COVID-19 outbreak crisis, and why Singaporeans embarrassed themselves on the world stage with their actions that resulted in runs on supermarkets island-wide. There were two main reactions to this leaked recording in Singapore. Mainly, those who are in support of Chan's candidness and those who derided Chan for speaking in Singlish and belittling Singaporeans in the process. This was in response to Chan calling Singaporeans “idiots” for being part of the runs on supermarkets and causing undue panic. He also used the colloquial phrase for embarrassment, “sia suay“, to describe how he felt about regular Singaporeans and their actions that were seen throughout the rest of the world.[247] In response to the leak, SCCCI said that the leak is "deeply disappointing" and a "betrayal of trust", adding that it was investigating the source of the leak.[248]

While many international medical experts praised Singapore's efforts to control the outbreak in Singapore, The New York Times argued that this could well be the continuation of erosion of civil liberties.[249]

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