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The Strange, Fragile Normalcy of Life in Singapore

Hailed for its early efforts to contain Covid-19, Singapore has recently seen a surge in new coronavirus cases. Still, daily life is surprisingly unaffected.
A recent surge in imported Covid-19 cases in Singapore is causing concern. The city-state has been remarkably successful in limiting the impact of the outbreak on daily life.
A recent surge in imported Covid-19 cases in Singapore is causing concern. The city-state has been remarkably successful in limiting the impact of the outbreak on daily life.SeongJoon Cho/Bloomberg

One morning last week, I woke up to see videos of my friends in New York City, France and Italy serving their voluntary and mandated coronavirus quarantines at home. Meanwhile, in Singapore, I watched my brother — someone suffering from kidney disease and diabetes — head out the door to work at a Nike retail store at Vivocity, one of the biggest shopping malls in Singapore.

I returned to Singapore from New York City on March 10, not to flee Covid-19, but only because I had the flight booked three months prior. This was before cities like New York plunged into lockdown as the first U.S. cases of the disease began spreading. Now I’m reading about panic shopping, eerily empty streets, mass unemployment, and grave fears about ill patients poised to overwhelm an unprepared American health care system.