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One Home Team: Responding to COVID-19 (Part 1)
Duty and dedication – Working as One Home Team as part of the national response to COVID-19.

Since the emergence of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), the Home Team has moved swiftly to support the national response to this public health threat. Here’s a snapshot of how our Home Team Guardians are playing their part.

Home Team News HT Covid Response Cover 1B
GRAPHIC: Home Team News

A FOCUS ON HEALTH 
Home Team Medical Services Division (HTMSD), Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA)
Since the detection of COVID-19 in Singapore in late January, the Home Team has put in place comprehensive measures to safeguard the health of our officers. Dr Joshua Wong and Wong Su Ee, two members of HTMSD, worked around the clock to ensure that our Home Team Guardians are safe as they perform their vital role of keeping Singapore safe and secure.  

Home Team News HT Covid Pt 1 HTMSD 1
Dr Joshua Wong (left) and Wong Su Ee (right) of HTMSD, MHA. PHOTOS:Desmond Ang
 
“HTMSD works closely with our counterparts at the Ministry of Health and other public agencies to constantly review what we know about COVID-19 so that we can calibrate our responses. This is an ongoing effort, and things can change very quickly. Different scenarios on the ground often require different actions, and that’s why we’ve issued regular updates and advisories to our officers.

“I was a medical officer at Tan Tock Seng Hospital’s Emergency Department during the H1N1 outbreak in 2009. Being younger then, I simply had to carry out what our senior doctors instructed us to do. Now that we have to give advice to others, it’s a much greater responsibility.

“The intensity and pressure are significant because this is a new Coronavirus and we strive to keep our officers informed about the current medical understanding of it. We also need to reassure our frontline officers about how they can protect themselves without compromising their operational effectiveness.”

– Dr Joshua Wong, Director, HTMSD, MHA

Home Team News Covid Response Pt 1 HTMSD 2
Focused on their mission (from left): Dr Wong, Rylynn Yong, Manager (Home Team Medical Centres Operation), and Su Ee also support officers who are deployed to quarantine facilities by providing instructions on the use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). PHOTO: Desmond Ang

“Our Home Team Medical Centres have been prepped to ensure that they are ready during this period. We’ve also conducted exercises at our Medical Centres to ensure that our medical personnel are ready and the necessary measures are in place. I’m really heartened that regardless of seniority or division, we’re all working as
One Home Team.” 

– Wong Su Ee, Senior Manager (Medical Contingency), HTMSD, MHA

ENSURING SECURITY 
Singapore Police Force (SPF) 
More than 180 SPF officers have been deployed to support quarantine operations. Quarantine Orders are issued to people who are well, but who may have been exposed to COVID-19 due to close contact with confirmed cases. While some are quarantined at home, others may be housed at Government Quarantine Facilities. Sergeant (SGT) Ahmad Razali and Senior Staff Sergeant (SSSGT) Siti Nurain are two SPF officers doing their part by ensuring the safety and security of those quarantined at CSC@Changi II.

Home Team News 2020 Covid Response SPF 1
PHOTOS: Home Team News

“I’m a Crime Strike Force officer at Geylang Neighbourhood Police Centre where I support multi-agency operations and neighbourhood-focused investigations. At CSC@Changi II, we help to manage the safety and security of Persons Under Quarantine as well as of the site. These are familiar operations to me as a Police officer, though there have been some new responsibilities that I’ve quickly adapted to.”
– SGT Ahmad Razali, SPF
 
Home Team News 2020 Covid HT Response SPF 2
SGT Ahmad Razali and SSSGT Siti Nurain patrolling the grounds at CSC@Changi II. PHOTO: Desmond Ang

“I’m with the Police Coast Guard, so this deployment has been a different work experience for me altogether, with new challenges. For example, because our area of coverage is fairly large, we conduct regular patrols to make sure that all’s well.

“We wash our hands regularly as part of our routine. After our shifts, we also place our uniforms in sealed plastic bags and wash them separately from other clothes. As Home Team officers, I feel that we’re needed most during such times. Let’s all go through this, together!” 
– SSSGT Siti Nurain, SPF
 
RESPONDING TO EMERGENCY CALLS
Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF)
Since the first case of COVID-19 appeared in Singapore, SCDF has responded to over 200 suspected cases, often conveying patients from their homes to the hospital. Following the move to DORSCON Orange in early February, all SCDF emergency medical crew now wear PPE when attending to 995 calls. This ensures the safety and well-being of the officers, shared SGT3 Muhamad Aiman, a Paramedic based at Paya Lebar Fire Station. 
 
Home Team News 2020 COVID HT Response SCDF
PHOTOS: Home Team News 

“We’ve all taken heightened precautionary measures, from call specialists to ambulance crews. Now, our call specialists ask more questions about patients, and this information is then relayed to the ambulance crews in real-time. This allows us to be better prepared when we respond to calls. Also, we all need to take our temperatures twice a day.

“We got through SARS in 2003, and similar public health incidents since. We’ll definitely get through this!”
– SGT3 Muhamad Aiman, Paramedic, SCDF 
 
SECURING OUR BORDERS
Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA)
Additional measures have been implemented at our checkpoints to ensure that travellers entering Singapore are screened for symptoms to guard our borders against the importation of COVID-19. ICA’s SGT2 Khoo Wei Ren and SGT2 Nurshazana Binte Misdani, two Primary Screening Officers at Woodlands Checkpoint, share how their roles have evolved in recent weeks.
 
Home Team News 2020 COVID HT Response ICA 1
PHOTOS: Home Team News

“As Primary Screening Officers, we facilitate passport clearance for arriving and departing travellers. Officers at the immigration counters have been provided with hand sanitisers, and we’re encouraged to use them frequently in the course of our duty. We also have hand sanitisers installed at all car counters and the immigration halls for everyone to use.

“Now, I also help to escort travellers whose temperatures are higher than normal to the health screening area for further screening by the healthcare assistants. This is to ensure that their temperatures aren’t elevated due to the hot weather (which can happen on warm afternoons). This can cause slight delays in their travel time, but most travellers are very understanding.”
– SGT2 Khoo Wei Ren, Primary Screening Officer, ICA 

Home Team News 2020 COVID HT Response ICA 2
Safe border, secure Singapore: SGT2 Wei Ren (top and bottom left) putting on a face mask and gloves when escorting travellers who’ve failed their temperature checks to the health screening area. PHOTOS: Home Team News

“With the new measures in place, we don’t just perform our usual immigration clearance. We also need to conduct additional checks to ascertain if travellers have been to Mainland China in the past 14 days. We also cross-check their information against our records. 

“Travellers are more understanding these days as they’re aware of the situation. Since we use our hands to handle immigration documents during the clearance process, some considerate travellers will even sanitise their hands before handing their passports to us.”
– SGT2 Nurshazana Binte Misdani, Primary Screening Officer, ICA

Thanks to our dedicated Home team Guardians for keeping Singapore safe and secure!

© 2019 Ministry of Home Affairs, Singapore. All Rights Reserved.


  1. by Desmond Ang and Ashley Tuen
  2. 26 February 2020
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