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One Home Team: Responding to COVID-19 (Part 3)
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.

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GRAPHIC: Home Team News

Home Team Science and Technology Agency (HTX)
Working swiftly to meet our frontline needs, scientists from HTX are now testing samples collected at our air, land and sea checkpoints. This helps to guard against the spread of COVID-19 through the detection of imported cases.

Overseeing the operationalisation of the tests in the laboratory is Ngoh Li Ee, Deputy Director (Research)/CBRNE (Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and Explosives). She shares how her team works around the clock to ensure that testing operations are carried out smoothly.

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PHOTOS: Tiffany Tan

“Prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, I was heading the CBRNE research team to oversee various Home Team research projects. Now, I assist in the operationalisation and testing of samples collected at our checkpoints.

“We’re on standby 24/7 and one challenge was finding the optimal roster arrangement for our team of 20 scientists. We need to factor in rest days for our officers and ensure that they have balanced schedules, so that we can be effective in our work.

“When working with samples, our scientists are required to don a powered air-purifying respirator, gloves, shoe covers and isolation gown. We also constantly remind one another about observing safe habits. We all play an active role in ensuring that necessary safety measures are established and practiced.

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PHOTOS: Tiffany Tan
“HTX is the newest member of the Home Team family and we’ve received strong support from the Home Team Departments and our partners. There’s also a strong sense of teamwork within HTX. During this period, colleagues have come forward to help us with the management of the Operation and Sample Collection cells so that our scientists can focus on our work. 

“We also actively communicate in a chat group, spurring one another on and sharing words of encouragement. During challenging situations like this, it’s our camaraderie that ensures the morale of the team is high!”

– Ngoh Li Ee, Deputy Director (Research)/CBRNE, HTX

Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF)
Since the COVID-19 outbreak began, Changi Airport has been quieter than usual, but at this vital transport hub, our SCDF Full-time National Servicemen (NSFs) are ready to take on the day’s tasks. To find out what goes on at the airport’s temperature screening stations, Lieutenant (LTA) (NSF) Aveek Goswami and Sergeant (SGT) 2 (NSF) Kevin Khoo tell us about their frontline duties.

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PHOTOS: Ashley Tuen

“We man temperature scanners and work with healthcare staff from Raffles Medical Group to screen travellers entering Singapore from abroad, looking out for those who show symptoms such as higher body temperatures. 

“I really appreciate the hard work put in by all the officers. Working on shift can be tiring at times, but I know what I’m doing helps the public and keeps them safe, and that motivates me. It’s a fulfilling task.

“When I joined SCDF, I never expected to be involved in such a role. It gives me a strong sense of duty, knowing I’m here to keep Singapore safe and secure!”
– LTA (NSF) Aveek Goswami, Rota Commander, Special Rescue Unit, SCDF

“As officers with SCDF’s Special Rescue Unit, we’re trained to conduct firefighting and HAZMAT operations, so this is quite different from our usual duties. Now, we interact more with travellers and members of the public, who are generally thankful. We appreciate the nods and smiles they give us. Those really lift our mood. 

“Some travellers may refuse to remove their caps for temperature screenings. We’ll step in to help and explain, and this makes a difference.

“My dad is very proud that I’m helping on the frontlines. He knows I’m playing a role in containing the COVID-19 situation. He actually told his friends that I’m part of the team!

“It’s a shared duty for all of us to do this. It’s been a fulfilling experience for me, knowing I can help and reassure the public.”

– SGT2 (NSF) Kevin Khoo, Section Commander, Special Rescue Unit, SCDF

Joint Operations Group (JOG), Ministry Of Home Affairs
It takes a cool head to keep things on track in a crisis. Have you wondered what goes on behind the scenes to ensure that our Whole-of-Government (WOG) response is coordinated, comprehensive and effective? Jaswinder Kaur and Elaine Lim of JOG tell us more.

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PHOTOS: Ashley Tuen, Home Team News

“The Homefront Crisis Executive Group (HCEG) supports the Ministerial Task Force and coordinates the WOG response to the COVID-19 outbreak. JOG’s Crisis Preparedness Directorate supports HCEG by performing Secretariat functions; monitoring the implementation of directions from HCEG; working with Homefront agencies to formulate strategies; and making drawer plans for scenarios related to the crisis.

“We both work on the Health portfolio, so prior to the emergence of COVID-19, we’d already been working closely with the Ministry of Health (MOH) to develop contingency and response plans as well as to monitor global health incidents and their potential impact on Singapore. We’ve also been working closely with the Home Team Medical Services Division on health measures to be taken by the Home Team during medical contingencies.

“What’s kept me going is knowing that other teams at MHA and across WOG are working tirelessly to manage COVID-19 and to ensure that our fellow Singaporeans are kept safe from the virus.”

– Jaswinder Kaur, Senior Manager (Crisis Preparedness), JOG, MHA

“We’re constantly managing pressing issues at hand while preparing for different scenarios. The biggest challenge has been maintaining a high tempo of work, and we’re very thankful for the support from our colleagues. They’ve jumped on board to assist the Secretariat team. Our teamwork has been strong and this has kept our spirits high. That’s what keeps me going.”
– Elaine Lim, Assistant Director (Crisis Preparedness), JOG, MHA 

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 2)
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 Ashley Tuen, Desmond Ang and Fazlee Rosli
  2. 17 March 2020
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