SINGAPORE - A new helpline is being set up to help anyone facing stress or anxiety caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Meanwhile, the People's Association (PA) said it will temporarily close all community centres and clubs (CCs) and residents' committee (RCs) centres for four weeks from Tuesday (April 7) to adhere to the Government's elevated safe distancing measures.
The National Care hotline will offer emotional support to any individual that needs it during this "difficult and unprecedented" time when lives have been disrupted by the coronavirus outbreak, Minister for Social and Family Development (MSF) Desmond Lee said.
"Many are losing jobs or face steep income cuts (and) tensions may rise in some families," wrote Mr Lee in a Facebook post on Sunday.
The psychological well-being and resilience of Singaporeans at this time of crisis is something the Government is watching over carefully, especially among the more vulnerable in the community, he said.
It will do more to offer assistance to those who are anxious about the situation and need someone to talk to.
The hotline complements the financial support schemes offered by MSF, such as income relief of $500 for those who have lost their jobs or suffered significant income loss because of the virus, said Mr Lee.
Those facing stress - such as over finances, or marital and family tensions - can call the hotline, where trained officers can link them up with social service agencies and specialised services.
It also complements existing phone and online counselling services run by social service agencies such as Samaritans of Singapore, Silver Ribbon Singapore and Fei Yue. More details on the National Care Hotline will be shared soon, said Mr Lee.
With the new hotline, the Government is also seeking professionals such as psychologists and counsellors to provide their support. Those who would like to register their interest can do so at go.gov.sg/nch.
"At a time of crisis, we must stand together," said Mr Lee. "Let's look out for each other's well-being, and offer a helping hand and listening ear to our fellow Singaporeans."
Separately, the PA said that food and beverage outlets at CCs will continue to offer take-away orders.
While CCs and RCs will be closed till at least May 4, they will continue to offer select services. These are applications for the Temporary Relief Fund, applications for Financial Assistance Schemes and reset of SingPass at CCs; and collection of reusable masks at both CCs and RCs.
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This article was first published in The Straits Times. Permission required for reproduction.