Singapore gives coronavirus frontliners a round of applause

Siblings Lucas Low, four; and Hayley Low, eight; clapping in appreciation of Covid-19 frontline workers, at Cantonment Road on March 30, 2020.
PHOTO: The Straits Times

SINGAPORE - At 8pm on Monday night (March 30), applause rang out across the rooftops of Singapore.

The ovation was part of Clap For #SGUnited, a campaign to get the public to show their appreciation for those on the frontlines of the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

Whether from their windows, doors or balconies, people clapped, cheered, sang Ole and even banged saucepans.

The call was started over the weekend by British expatriate Martin Verga, who works in finance and has lived in Singapore for 10 years.

He was inspired by #ClapforNHS, which saw millions of Britons applauding National Health Service staff last Thursday, and wanted to do the same for workers here.

"For the doctors, nurses, carers, emergency services, delivery workers, warehouse workers, cleaners, supermarket staff and everyone else keeping Singapore safe and stocked at this time," he wrote on Facebook. "We will be forever grateful."

Mr Verga, 30, does not know exactly how many people responded to his call, though as of 8pm last night, 4,600 people had indicated they would join his event on Facebook and the comments section was filled with videos of people clapping.

"Novena was amazing," he said of the response in his own neighbourhood. "So many claps, saucepans banging."

At 8pm, the cheers and claps rang out in spots across the island, from Pasir Ris to Bishan.

Real estate consultant Chan Yee Yin, 50, saw the event as a chance to educate her children about the strength of community spirit and asked three generations of her family - from her parents to her five-year-old nephew and her elder daughter in Melbourne - to join in the clapping. "It's a small thing we can do to show our appreciation."

Author Eva Wong Nava, 51, heard about the event from a friend and shared it with many in her network. "I thought it was such a wonderful way to show support for the key workers who are keeping us safe, alive and comfortable in this trying time," she said.

Her sister is a doctor in the United States and her husband's family live in Bergamo, Italy, which has been devastated by the coronavirus. She says she clapped for her loved ones too, and for those who are risking their lives to keep them safe. "This virus needs a united humanity to stand together."

A 31-year-old healthcare worker who gave his name as Kai said coming home to the clapping was very encouraging. "It does brighten me up a little after a long day at work."

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This article was first published in The Straits Times. Permission required for reproduction.

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