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Coronavirus: The Valentine messages to medics in Singapore


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Judith Perera-Lee

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Judith Perera-Lee says some of her friends and relatives are medical workers

People in Singapore are thanking healthcare workers on the frontline of the coronavirus outbreak with handwritten notes for Valentine’s Day.

Singapore has reported 50 cases of the virus, and the government has stepped up measures to detect and contain its spread.

Some people, including schoolchildren, have been using social media to share their messages of love and support, to help boost the morale of medical professionals.

Wally Tham is one of the people behind the Facebook group @StandUpForSG, a page dedicated to Singapore’s social issues where the idea was first suggested last week.

He told the BBC he heard about possible discrimination some medics were facing and wanted to start a movement to counteract that, using the hashtag #braveheartsg.

“I have read about Singaporeans getting out of lifts or getting off trains if there was a person in medical scrubs because of fear and paranoia that they might get coronavirus.

“So for me this was about tackling people’s anxiety.

“I came up with #braveheartsg as the hashtag because we need to have brave hearts.

“We need courage, we need to be brave, and right now who else is doing that but the healthcare workers,” he said

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EPA

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People have been wearing protective masks to avoid being infected in Singapore

The hashtag, which has been used more than 5,000 times since Saturday, has even been mentioned by Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on his Facebook page.

“Let us all do our part to help and encourage one another. Together, we will overcome this trying time and emerge stronger,” he posted.

Memories of the 2003 Sars crisis, which saw hundreds of infections and scores of deaths, still loom large in the tiny city-state.

Though the Covid-19 outbreak appears less severe, the Singapore government has strenuously sought to manage public anxiety by encouraging Singaporeans to pull together.

But these efforts have not always worked – with many Singaporeans panic-buying supplies at supermarkets last week when the country raised its alert level.

Still, there are others are keen to do their part.

More than 800 notes have been sent to the StandUpForSG Facebook group so far, and Wally says they hope they can print as many as possible to distribute at healthcare facilities starting on Valentine’s Day.

Felicia Lim, 13, shared her message of support as part of a school exercise.

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Felicia Lim

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“You are the true heroes for tomorrow’s Singapore,” wrote Felicia Lim

“They are fighting against the virus yet they get discriminated against as people think that they will carry the virus.

“I am sure that they would be scared of the virus too,” she said.

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@missnio

Brenda Nio, a teacher in Singapore said: “I wanted to get involved because there’s so much fear right now. Fear leads to selfishness and discrimination.

“If we work together we can look out for each other. I wanted to do what little I can to spread messages of kindness, courage, hope and encouragement,” she said.



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