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COVID-19: Science, Stories, and Resources

Member Perspectives

As people around the world are affected by the global COVID-19 pandemic, the Biophysical Society is sharing stories from members about how their lives and research have been impacted.

    

Singapore and Social Distancing

As people around the world are affected by the global COVID-19 pandemic, the Biophysical Society is sharing stories from members about how their lives and research have been impacted. 

Sharyn Endow, Duke University

Durham, North Carolina, United States

Singapore has been widely praised for the effectiveness of its response to COVID-19 in suppressing spread of the virus, despite the proximity of Singapore to the epicenter of infection in China and the mobility of people from surrounding affected regions into Singapore. One of the measures that was implemented in Singapore to reduce viral infection is mandatory daily monitoring of the body temperature of its work force. At Duke-NUS Medical School and the National University of Singapore (NUS), where I have had a part-time faculty appointment for a number of years, thermal sensors are used to monitor the temperature of everyone who enters the campuses. In addition, all Duke-NUS and NUS staff, faculty and students are required to submit temperature readings twice daily to a web site, which is closely monitored.

Because of US travel advisories and restrictions on entry into Singapore, I have not visited Singapore since November 2019. I was therefore surprised recently to receive a notice from the NUS Office of Safety, Health & Environment (OSHE) admonishing me for not reporting my daily temperature readings since mandatory implementation on February 10, 2020. Failure to comply with rules and regulations in Singapore often has dire consequences, including large fines, restrictive measures such as preventing one’s departure from Singapore, or imprisonment. I therefore replied immediately and stated that instead of daily temperature readings, I had been practicing social distancing and that I hoped that the distance of ~15,860 km that I was maintaining between myself and other Duke-NUS and NUS personnel was helping to maintain safety of the NUS community. Apparently this form of extreme social distancing was acceptable to the OSHE officials as a COVID-19 containment measure, as I have not heard back from them with further requests for daily temperature readings.



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COVID-19: Science, Stories, and Resources

Header Image Credit: CDC/ Alissa Eckert, MS; Dan Higgins, MAMS