Are Singaporean youths taking COVID-19 seriously enough?
Youth have an important part to play in the fight against COVID-19.
Published: 24 March 2020, 9:01 PM
Over the weekend, the World Health Organization (WHO) issued a strong statement to young people worldwide regarding the COVID-19 pandemic: “You are not invincible.”
“This virus could put you in hospital for weeks or even kill you. Even if you don’t get sick the choices you make about where you go could be the difference between life and death for someone else,” said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus at a virtual press conference on Mar 20.
Youth.SG spoke to four local young adults to hear their thoughts about Singaporean youth’s response to the outbreak thus far.
A good wake-up call
“I’m a little shocked that the WHO Director-General has to address young people because I thought that youths today are more aware of world issues and would help the older generations to contain the situation.
There was this Miami beach where students who wanted to enjoy their summer were saying: “I’ve been waiting for this for so many months and I’m not going to let the virus stop me.”
A lot of people attended events like this, so I think that’s why a statement had to be made. I just feel some youths prioritise fun before their health.
Spring breakers are ignoring social distancing guidelines and flocking to some popular beaches.
American youths are flooding to Florida beaches for spring break.
Another thing that comes to mind is the people who still go clubbing in Singapore even when we should be practicing safe distancing. Clubbing is an activity where you come into close contact with people, it’s sweaty and the space is confined. So if one person has COVID-19, the virus can spread easily.
Even though clubs conduct temperature-screening and it’s ‘safe’, I don’t think it is, because people can have the virus but not show any symptoms. We should not let our short term happiness affect others in the long run.” – Vera Lim, 18, Student
Young people are selfless too
“Although I agree with Tedros as he tells us the severity of the current situation, it may come off as offensive to young people. He seems very pessimistic about the situation and can give the wrong impression especially to parents.
Unlike boomers, we are able to remain calm and buy only what we need instead of resorting to panic buying. We are also able to distinguish facts from fake news and do not blindly follow what is published.
Young people are also selfless. Recently, youths went around donating masks and other necessities to the needy. They don’t just take care of themselves but also take care of others. If anything, we’re more woke than ever.
It took other countries a lot of cases and deaths for them to finally feel a sense of urgency and take measures to curb the spread of the virus. For Singapore we’re actually very advanced – we have our own diagnostic test at this stage, so it just shows how prepared we are. I think we’re doing great, except the part where they don’t close down schools.” – Abigail Cienna Alicbusan Ramos, 18, part-time sales associate
Fighting against misinformation and panic
“Youths do have this perception that ‘we are strong.’ but I think we must change this. Youths cannot afford to be too ignorant.
For youths who have power on social media – like they have a very big following and influence – I’ve been seeing them spreading correct info about COVID-19: If you’re sick then stay home, practice hygiene a lot, don’t anyhow spread rumours.
People need to trust the government. What the government is saying is that there’s enough supply. But what’s happening is people don’t follow and panic buy. Youths need to explain to their parents or maybe even grandparents to react more responsibly.” – Erwin Shah, 19, student
We still have to go on with life
“I understand the risks and everything, but then again, we cannot completely stop going out. Like staying home will contain the virus, but we still have to go on with life and all.
I understand how we have to think of others and avoid large gatherings, especially when meeting with the elderly or young children cos they have weaker immune systems and are more vulnerable.
Honestly, Singapore is one of the more prepared countries, having jumped into action faster to locate all those that have been infected and quarantining them to ensure that there isn’t any further spreading. Comparatively, countries like America were slower to react to the virus and weren’t ready to handle the virus.
While it is impossible for everyone to drop everything and in a way stop their lives, I think it would be advisable if the government starts scanning for the virus in the elderly and the young. Especially since their immune systems are weaker, finding if they have the virus earlier would help them recover faster and better.” – Abigail Woo, 18, Student
Whether or not our youths feel they are taking COVID-19 seriously enough, one thing is for certain – everyone has an important part to play for us to get through this together.
As the WHO chief said: “Solidarity is the key to defeating COVID-19 – solidarity between countries, but also between age groups.”
Additional reporting by Esther Lam and Anis Nabilah