26 February 2020
By Saskia Kendal, Head of Health
“Business in Singapore has been affected by the Covid-19 virus outbreak but remains confident in Singapore as a major international business hub. This is the clear picture from a survey Sandpiper Communications launched today in partnership with AmCham looking at the effects of Covid-19 in Singapore. https://amcham.com.sg/amcham-publications/
“This confidence in Singapore (and its government) is be well-founded. The number of new cases in the last few days have dwindled, while new outbreaks occurring in Italy and Korea show how quickly Covid-19 can spread. Business operations and plans for 2020 have been affected in Singapore but long-term decisions about staffing remain unchanged.
“This is testimony to the Singapore government’s deft handling of communications around the outbreak. Our survey revealed continued concern about misinformation spreading, something which can impact business and society. Since the SARS outbreak, social media and revolutionised how we communicate. Information spreads instantaneously, whether founded or not, spreading fear and knee-jerk reactions. Photos of empty supermarket shelves is one outcome, but the impact can be more severe.
“While international news headlines obsess with numbers and stoke fears around an imminent pandemic, Singapore’s government has shown the impact that consistent regular communication can do to combat misinformation. By providing transparent health and safety updates, including regular WhatsApp messages, and a measured assessment of the potential economic impact, it has avoided creating a panic that exacerbates the situation.
“This clarity, combined with extensive efforts to trace each case and limit the spread of this virus, has greatly reassured the business community. Almost 98% of business think the government’s communications have been effective, while nearly 80% feel they are supporting the economy effectively.
“It seems likely that we will see the city-state emerge from the crisis in stronger economic health than many of its international peers. Although there is a long way to go, as Singapore has not hit its first peak of infection yet.”