The ugly side of Singaporeans continues to show amid the coronavirus outbreak that has infected at least 45 people in the city-state, this time involving discrimination against nurses wearing uniforms in public.
A number of them claimed they have either been chased out of trains or told to take the staircase instead of lifts for fear of spreading the virus. One also noticed people avoiding standing too close to them while on public transport. Such behavior has been met with online criticism as many defended the nurses for their bravery in the fight against the disease.
Medical workers in nearly all Singapore hospitals, including Tan Tock Seng and the Singapore General Hospital, have been treating coronavirus patients.
“Look, let’s not be fools. Nurses and doctors take much more careful precautions about hygiene, and wash their hands much more. It’s their own health on the line – and the least we can do is to honour and love them and find ways to support them,” Facebook user Yeo Yeu Ann wrote yesterday. His wife, who is a nurse, had noticed people keeping their distance from her while on trains.
His wife had even considered changing into her uniform at work instead of wearing it during her journey as she is “a bit concerned about causing worry to others,” he said.
“But still… do not be afraid, friends, of our nurses who don their uniforms. The nurse uniform should be something to be proud and respected and admired in public – especially during such a time as this,” Yeo added in his post, which has now been shared more than 2,000 times with comments from others joining in show of support.
Yeo’s online post comes as other nurses took to Instagram and Twitter to rant about their own experiences of being ostracized as many saw their profession a viral threat.
A teenage nurse yesterday wrote on her Twitter account that a couple had told her off for potentially spreading the coronavirus by taking the lift with them instead of the stairs.
“Then why u (sic) take lift? Got stairs right? Got legs? You can spread the virus to others,” Twitter user @Reenyff quoted the man. The man then apparently turned racist by saying: “U Malay right? Are you stupid?”
Separately, two nurses were recently told to get off trains over the same reason, according to an Instagram post.
An Instagram user who also appears to be a nurse had apparently witnessed two elderly women trying to “chase out” another nurse boarding a train for “making the train dirty.”
The user added that a similar incident had occurred with her friend, who is also a nurse.
“We are just trying our best and definitely not deserved this kind of manner. It’s so hurtful,” the post read.
These stories have come under criticism from netizens including one Facebook user Robin Carangi.
“I feel so sorry for these nurses who have to go through such nuisance every day. It’s infuriating to read that these innocent nurses are being blamed for doing absolutely nothing but just going to work to care for the patients in need,” he wrote yesterday. His post has been shared a thousand times.
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This article, Singapore nurses share stories of discrimination amid coronavirus outbreak, originally appeared on Coconuts, Asia's leading alternative media company. Want more Coconuts? Sign up for our newsletters!