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One Home Team: Responding to COVID-19 (Part 2)
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 COVID HT Cover 2
GRAPHIC: Home Team News

RETURNING HOME TO A FRIENDLY FACE 
Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA)
Stepping up onto the frontlines to welcome their stranded countrymen home – when Staff Sergeant (SSGT) Anisah Binte Anis and Checkpoint Inspector (CI) 1 Patrick Goh received a call for volunteers to conduct immigration clearance for stranded Singaporeans returning on a Scoot flight from Wuhan, China, on 9 February, the two Primary Screening Officers responded without hesitation. 

Home Team News COVID 2 ICA Airport Collage 1
PHOTOS: Desmond Ang

“I didn’t hesitate as I felt that it’s my duty as an Immigration Officer. Also, I pictured myself in the shoes of the Singaporeans who’d been stranded overseas and not knowing when they could return home. It can be stressful, especially for those with families. That’s why I decided to step forward.

“There was a child who refused to turn her head towards me when I was trying to verify her identity, as I was wearing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) at that time. Thankfully, her parents were very helpful and managed to coax her into cooperating.

“I’ve encountered a few concerned travellers who wear goggles, a mask and gloves, and when we requested that they remove their masks as part of our immigration checks, they just lowered their masks and revealed their noses. We explained to them that we needed to verify that they were the rightful holders of their passports, hence they had to remove all the protective gear on their faces. The travellers will usually do so after hearing our explanation. 

“There were also travellers who complimented our efforts. This further encouraged us and made us feel that our work has purpose and brings value to others.” 

– CI Patrick Goh, Primary Screening Officer, Airport Command, ICA 
 
Home Team News COVID 2 ICA Airport Collage 2
Suiting up: With guidance from their supervisors, SSGT Anisah and CI Patrick helped each other to put on the PPE, which were worn when they cleared passengers on the chartered flight from Wuhan.PHOTOS: Desmond Ang

“I just wanted to help them to come home as quickly as possible. Being stranded overseas, away from your family and friends, is stressful, especially with the uncertainty about COVID-19.

“The Scoot flight was supposed to reach Changi Airport at 3am on 9 February, but it was delayed for a few hours. When it finally landed around 8am, we wanted to make the process as stress-free and convenient for the passengers as possible. 

“Many of the passengers were relieved to be back in Singapore. One said to me, ‘Finally we’re home.’”

“Our PPE can look intimidating to young children. However, knowing that kids have a playful side, I tried to be friendlier by waving to them, so they’d feel less afraid.

“My mom works in a hospital and has been very supportive of me. She’s also well-informed about what precautions to take. I’ll volunteer again if needed, and I’m sure there are many other officers who’d step up too.”

– SSGT Anisah Binte Anis, Primary Screening Officer, Airport Command, ICA 

TRACING THE VIRUS 
Singapore Police Force (SPF)
Timely contact tracing is pivotal in helping to contain the spread of COVID-19. Since February, SPF officers have supported the Ministry of Health (MOH) by identifying and locating individuals who’ve come into close contact with COVID-19 patients. Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) Thng Zhan Yang, who leads a dedicated team of contact tracers at Yishun South Neighbourhood Police Centre, tells us more about their work. 
 
Home Team News COVID 2 SPF Yishun Collage
PHOTOS: Fazlee Rosli

“Since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak, my team and I have been on standby every day to respond to any activation for contact tracing. We conduct extensive ground enquiries and review CCTV footage to establish the location and movement of persons who’ve come in contact with COVID-19 patients. This is important as timely and effective contact tracing can help to contain the spread of the virus.

“In early February, I was activated to trace a taxi passenger who’d come into close contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19. We were only told the drop-off point of the passenger. With this small lead, we rushed down to the drop-off point, only to realise that there was no CCTV overlooking the spot. 

“That didn’t stop us. We trawled CCTV footage from the vicinity and finally managed to spot the passenger and establish that she’d walked to a particular block. We then conducted ground enquiries by going door-to-door to locate the passenger. 

“Our hard work paid off when we managed to find the passenger at her residential unit. Through our interview with her, we learnt that her colleague had been in the same taxi as her. As a result of our perseverance, we managed to trace both the passenger and her colleague.”

– ASP Thng Zhan Yang, Officer-in-Charge, Crime Strike Force, Yishun South NPC
 
INVESTIGATORS ON THE CASE
Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB)
CNB officers were attached to enforcement teams from the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) to conduct checks on foreigners subject to Leave of Absence and Stay-Home Notice orders. For CNB Investigation Officers Station Inspector (SI) Yew Kok Hong and Senior Staff Sergeant (SSSGT) Rochelle Chia, the attachment allowed them to apply their investigative and fieldwork expertise while gaining a deeper understanding of Singapore’s labour framework.

Home Team News COVID 2 CNB Collage 1
PHOTOS: Home Team News

“Since February, we’ve been attached to MOM’s Operations Branch as Enforcement Officers. We conduct checks on those who’ve returned to Singapore and are subject to the orders.

“I’m out on the ground conducting checks and visits daily. Aside from checking on compliance with the orders, we also support our MOM colleagues in the investigation of offences under the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act.

“We regularly consult our MOM colleagues on employment laws and protocols, especially for cases when employers and workers may not be in compliance.” 

– SI Yew Kok Hong, Investigation Division, CNB 

Home Team News COVID 2 CNB Collage 2
SI Kok Hong and SSSGT Rochelle partnering with MOM Enforcement Officers to conduct checks on those who’ve returned to Singapore and are subject to Leave of Absence and Stay-Home Notice orders. PHOTO: Home Team News

“We partner MOM Enforcement Officers when we go about conducting checks. During visits, we also check that the workers’ accommodations are properly catered for and that their well-being is looked after by their employers.

“Prior to this attachment, we hadn’t had a chance to work with MOM officers before. It’s quite exciting and unlike anything I’ve done before with CNB. We now make more visits to places such as workers’ dormitories and construction sites.

“We’re issued with face masks and gloves every morning. Before we conduct interviews, we make sure that we’re all wearing the necessary protective gear. After completing our checks and visits, we dispose of our gear properly and wash our hands. As an additional measure, we also wear body cameras to document our conversations and actions.”
– SSSGT Rochelle Chia, Investigation Division, CNB

Thanks to our dedicated Home team Guardians for keeping Singapore safe and secure!
 
Don't forget to check out:
One Home Team: Responding to COVID-19 (Part 1)
- One Home Team: Responding to COVID-19 (Part 3)
One Home Team: Responding to COVID-19 (Part 4)
One Home Team: Responding to COVID-19 (Part 5)
One Home Team: Responding to COVID-19 (Part 6)
One Home Team: Responding to COVID-19 (Part 7)
© 2019 Ministry of Home Affairs, Singapore. All Rights Reserved.


  1. by Desmond Ang
  2. 11 March 2020
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