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How to Be a Decent Human Being in the Climate of the Coronavirus

Amidst the madness and fear this Coronavirus season, I hope everyone’s holding up just fine. In the words of Taylor Swift, you need to calm down. Halt the panic-buying, hold back the masks, and just remember to be a decent human being even during the crossfire of the pandemic.

1. Don’t be a hoarder

We may poke fun at the wave of Singaporeans who flooded supermarkets and stores, determined to wipe out every packet of toilet rolls, instant noodles, and rice in existence, but some of you might be equally guilty of being part of the Stormtrooper-esque operation that happened last Friday. The most basic way to be a decent citizen this season is to refrain from being a hoarder of these commodities, no matter how strong that kiasi voice in your head might be.

Credit – Mediacorp Singapore

Hoarding is unnecessary, dramatic, and inconsiderate. Period. Over the weekend, I’ve had a friend complain about being unable to purchase toilet paper because of the recent panic-buying situation—and that was after he had already scoured 5 different supermarkets. Not to mention, engaging in panic-buying only serves to reinforce the exaggerated fear that is prevalent.

Credit – Unknown

I’m just going to leave this meme here.

2. Don’t be a fear monger

When fear strikes the hearts of individuals, they tend to do irrational things. And so I can understand when people make the conscious effort to up their hygiene game. But when parents start to put their children in perpetual lockdown and citizens overreact by buying essential items excessively, it’s important to pause and question our actions. I know that as Singaporeans, we were raised to always put our 110% into everything, but sometimes things have simply been taken too far.

Circulating fake news out of fear and alarming your friends and family for the sake of scaring them into a corner is unproductive, and does not help improve the situation in any way. Lastly, wearing a mask is not necessary if you are not sick. The only group of people who should be wearing masks are sick individuals who are en route to the doctor, and back home. Wearing masks unnecessarily might aggravate the situation if not worn properly, or give the user a false sense of security, said Mr Wong, co-chair of the multi-ministry task force tackling the spread of the Wuhan virus here.

3. Spread care, not hate

In this season of a public health emergency, Singaporeans tend to launch into an ‘every man for himself’ mentality where aunties claw for that last roll of toilet paper and uncles hurl expletives at one another for coughing without having a mask on.

Credit – Instagram User

And in true kiasu fashion, things can turn pretty aggressive, pretty fast. Even healthcare professionals such as nurses were shunned on the train after being accused by commuters for spreading the virus.

As a Singaporean myself, it saddens me to see fellow citizens react in this manner. Instead, we should be banding together during this difficult time and watching out for one another. “Fear can do more harm than the virus itself,” said PM Lee during an address. I urge everyone to consider sharing their already abundant resources with neighbours and friends, for there might really be someone out there who needs it more than you do.

4. Educate yourself

I’ve lost count of how many warning messages I’ve received from my parents and relatives alike with regards to the Wuhan Coronavirus outbreak in Singapore—places to avoid, ways to make home-brewed remedies, the list goes on. This then begs the question, how many actually run these pieces of information through a fact check before disseminating them to their friends and family?

A reason why the magnitude of the SARS outbreak wasn’t as bad in terms of the speed at which information had spread is that these older users didn’t have as much access to social media and sharing platforms like Whatsapp and Facebook then, so mindless forwarding of such messages was the least of our concerns. Even in the midst of this pandemic, you want to make sure that you’re getting your news from a reliable source so that you get the most accurate picture of the current situation. This helps us to take actions that are objective and effective, instead of reactive.

5. Don’t make generalisations

It’s convenient and very tempting to pin the blame of this calamity on a select nationality (yes, you know who I’m talking about), but it’s also very hateful, ignorant, and sweeping. Don’t let yourself be that person. Though I have to admit that I, too, catch myself engaging in the crossfire of jokes and memes sometimes, in the end I still remind myself that we can all do better than this.


Where Singaporean Chinese are concerned, many are quick to draw the line between ourselves and the mainland Chinese—fearful that we’ll be mistaken for the other. As such, xenophobia and racism can arise, and if we’re not careful, fester. Don’t spin the story out of context, and don’t jump at every opportunity to ride the hate wave just because it seems to be the trend.

6. Seek the help that you need

Singaporean to Singaporean, I’m going to go out on a limb and say that whenever we fall sick, our first course of action is to stay at home, self-medicate, and cross our fingers that we recover overnight because God forbid we pay for the necessary treatments we require from trained professionals.

Credit – Mediacorp Singapore

In a climate where we’re dealing with more than just the ordinary flu, it’s absolutely imperative to take responsibility for our health instead of leaving our well-being entirely up to fate. This means actually taking days off when you’re under the weather and getting the appropriate treatment that you need, even if it turns out to be a simple sore throat. Just remember, being safe doesn’t equate to letting paranoia kick in.

7. Take initiative

In addition to getting treatment when needed, practising social responsibility is also a way to do your part for the community at large. If you have been (or even suspect to have been) in contact with an infected individual, take the initiative to embark on a 14-day self-quarantine regime—don’t worry, there is plenty to do to pass the time.

Otherwise, just maintain good personal hygiene on a whole, monitor your health, and practise self-control to avoid putting yourself in positions where you could potentially get sick.

When in doubt, just remember W-U-H-A-N:

W – Wash your hands
U – Use your mask properly
H – Have your temperature checked regularly
A – Avoid large crowds
N – Never touch your face with unclean hands

Stay safe everyone, and don’t panic, everything’s fine.

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