Are youths taking enough precautionary measures to safeguard themselves against COVID-19?

The only way to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is if everyone plays their part.

Nigel Chin

Started writing for the passion. Now writing because it’s the only thing I can do.

Published: 25 March 2020, 7:48 PM

Youths aged between 20 and 29 now make up the largest group of COVID-19 patients in Singapore, according to the Straits Times.

While 78 per cent of the 141 youths affected were imported cases, it does show that youth are not invincible.

Over the weekend, Youth.SG ran a poll on its Instagram to find out if youths have adopted precautionary measures to keep themselves safe and protected from the virus, especially after the first two deaths related to COVID-19 were reported in Singapore.

Of those who responded, 276 said they will take up more safe distancing measures. However, 78 indicated that they will do nothing differently, while 47 said that they will still hang out with their friends while they still can.

Youth.SG spoke to five youths to find out if they are taking any increased precautions.

Realising the importance of safe distancing

“Honestly, when the virus was still relatively ‘new’ and ‘tamed’, I did not understand why everyone was so paranoid. I thought that COVID-19 was ‘just another flu’ and I didn’t see the need to take extra precautions or even practice safe distancing – I felt it was an over-exaggeration. Plus, I thought that even if I were to catch the virus, it would barely do me harm due to my young age.

However, after constantly reading the news on COVID-19, I came to realise that catching the virus would not only endanger just me, but the people around me too. Now, I feel that practising safe distancing as much as possible is the only responsible thing we can do to help ‘contain’ the virus. I don’t think the death reports significantly made me change my behaviour, but reading news coverage and hearing others’ thoughts did.

And it isn’t just me; some of my friends cancelled plans in the past few weeks to go clubbing in an attempt to practise safe distancing and be a more responsible citizen.” – Ilyana Insyirah, 19, Student

“The virus outbreak was already a talking point over the Chinese New Year period and as the cases in Singapore increased, I became much more aware of my hygiene. I always carried a bottle of hand sanitiser on me, and washed my hands more thoroughly.

The deaths did not really change my view towards the COVID-19 outbreak that much. I just stuck to the usual practices, but also made it a habit to maintain a safe distance away from people out in public, no matter whether I am out commuting or having a meal, after reading about how it’s the best method to prevent the spread of the virus.

But with every growing day, I hear and see more false information from my family WhatsApp groups and even from my parents. I try my best to debunk rumours and direct them to official sources. Given that we (as youths) are more ‘fake news savvy’, I guess this is what we youths can do to prevent the spread of falsehood which does more harm than good in this crisis.” – Eric Teo, 21, NSF

Safe distancing is key in preventing the spread of the virus. PHOTO CREDIT: ANIS NABILAH


Becoming more vigilant 

“After reports on the two deaths, I did notice that my parents had become more strict on the measures to take. For example, I had to limit the amount of times I go out, and to always wear a mask and bring hand sanitiser while going out. Not only that, but even amongst friends, I noticed that we made sure to remind each other to wash our hands more often and check up on each other. People are becoming more vigilant as they seem to realise how serious this virus really is.

Besides wearing a mask while I’m out and using hand sanitiser often, I always make sure to change my clothes immediately once I come home from outside. I’ve also been trying to limit the amount of times I go outside, and read up more on the news to check on any more updates about the virus in Singapore.” – Chloe Tan, 17, Student

Avoiding sharing of food and drinks 

“Most people I know have already been pretty cautious in terms of hygiene, but they haven’t done much for safe distancing requirements. I don’t think the recent deaths have made much of a difference towards my routine either, but I guess it is best not to share food and drinks with others just to err on the side of caution.

I think while the number of cases in Singapore may increase, it may not be that many. There will be an increase in cases, but not because we do not have good medical facilities in Singapore, but because some of us are more susceptible due to existing illnesses, especially the elderly.” – Nolan Ng, 20, waiting for NS

Cancelling gatherings that are non-essential 

“I felt sad about the deaths, but given the situation at hand globally, I knew it was inevitable. However, I would say the Singaporean death toll is already very low considering the seriousness of the situation and the population density of our nation.

I’ve noticed that people around me are starting to take it more seriously now. Many at my workplace have started eating lunch alone or buying lunch back to the office instead to avoid crowds. Personally, I have cancelled some non-essential social gatherings, even if in a small group. I’m only heading out for daily tasks – such as work and buying necessities.” – Nicolette Kum, 19, part-time admin assistant

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