Updated: Mar 25
In the past few days, the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) situation has escalated globally, with the World Health Organisation (WHO) announcing the COVID-19 outbreak as a pandemic. As this is a tough period for everyone, it is important for us to stay strong and vigilant, both physically and mentally. Here are a few pointers that are good for you to know regarding this crisis.
1. REGISTER WITH SINGAPORE'S MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS (MFA)
By now, I hope that most of you reading this have already registered with MFA. If you have yet to do so, please do so ASAP here. With more and more countries starting to close their borders and some such as Spain and Italy where people there are in lockdown, it is important for us to register so that our government knows that we are here and they can stay in close contact with us.
2. KEEP UP WITH OFFICIAL NEWS DAILY
An unpredictable situation that all of us are in, it is crucial to keep up with the latest updates from various sites so that we are prepared in the event of any unexpected changes. Please do make sure that the news that you are keeping up to is not fake or just rumours, as that will just instill panic for you and those around! Here are some useful sites to follow up with:
3. BE READY FOR ANY EMERGENCY
As much as it feels like things cannot get any worse, it potentially can, and might. Many international students (apart from those on internships and exchanges who were called back) at other countries such as the US and the UK have flown back to Singapore as the situation in those countries continues to worsen. With MFA strongly advising all Singapore international students to return home, I am sure some of you are seriously considering to fly back to Singapore. If you do make the decision to do so, do check that all your modules have been switched to online as not all universities, such as The University of Melbourne have made the announcement of a complete switch. If you feel that you are unable to get through the semester due to all the disruptions and would like to withdraw, it would be good to make the decision in the next few days or ASAP so that you can avoid paying a penalty fee for any withdrawal. Do take note of important dates as well for announcements and sudden changes that might affect you.
4. AVOID HOARDING AND INSTILLING UNNECESSARY PANIC
From just toilet paper, all the food shelves at supermarkets are completely wiped out now too. In such an event, try not to hoard excessively but instead plan and stock-up on necessities reasonably. In such a situation, it is important to stay gracious and considerate. By doing so, there is definitely enough to go around. Click here to read Australia's PM stern advice to stop hoarding!
5. STAY HOME AS MUCH AS YOU CAN
Avoid social gatherings especially those in big groups. Although the current situation in Australia still seems to be manageable, we never know what can happen. Even if you are not feeling unwell, staying indoors will prevent the spread of the virus tremendously. As long as there are active cases, the virus is spreading. If you have to leave the house, do practice social distancing as well as avoid touching your face at all costs!
6. I THINK I HAVE COVID-19, WHAT SHOULD I DO?
Stay calm. If you suspect that you may have contracted the virus, the first thing you should do is to call the Coronavirus hotline at 1800 020 080. It's operating 24 hours, 7 days a week. They will inform you of what to do next. Do not pay a visit to a nearby clinic or hospital without calling ahead. This is so as to allow medical staff to be prepared with the necessary measures to prevent the spread of the virus in the event that you may have contracted it.
Here is a list of important contacts to take note of!
If you would like to know more about Covid-19 while staying here in Australia, click here to read more about it. Do check for any changes as information is constantly being updated daily.
7. SUPPORT ONE ANOTHER
(Of course, with as little physical contact as possible)
In this difficult period, it is important for us to be there for one another. If you know of any friends desperately trying to find toilet rolls, or are unable to get their hands on some food, do share your supplies if you can afford it. Be gracious to the elderly and needy, and help them if you can. Click here to join this Facebook forum group if you wish and you can submit any questions that you might have as well as provide help to other fellow Singaporeans. Together, we can get through this!
Most of us are separated from our families and loves ones back in Singapore. Click here to watch Singapore's Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr Vivian Balakrishnan's interview with CNBC, which will keep you updated and (maybe) slightly assured of the situation in Singapore. If you have any questions, you can reach out to us on our Facebook or Instagram and we would love to chat with you. Do take care of yourselves and stay in the pink of health fellow Singaporeans!
by KIMBERLY PANG
One of the marketing directors of Singaporeans of Victoria, Kimberly is currently studying her Bachelor of Arts at The University of Melbourne. During her free time, she enjoys binge-watching shows on Netflix as well as trying new cafés and food.