Singapore Battles Coronavirus with Children’s Rap Song About Hand Washing

A woman wearing a mask helps her son put on his mask at Changi Airport on January 25, 2020 in Singapore. Yesterday Singapore confirmed its third case of the deadly coronavirus which emerged last month in the city of Wuhan in China. (Photo by Ore Huiying/Getty Images)
Ore Huiying/Getty Images

Singapore’s latest gambit to defeat the Wuhan coronavirus is “Bye Bye Virus,” a so-bad-it’s-irresistible rap song and dance video intended to remind people to wash their hands.

The gobsmacked writers at Coconuts Singapore saluted the Ministry of Education video for at least distracting them from thinking about the epidemic for a while:

The music video’s cringe begins with afterthought rhymes and lackluster beats before going on to introduce five virus superheroes dubbed The Soaper 5: Super Soaper Soffy, Hands Down Hanna, Mask Up Mei Mei, Virus Screener Varun and Wipe Up Wilson. 

“Wash your hands to the beat/Let’s keep the virus off the streets/Don’t touch your face with your bare hands/Cos you don’t know where the germs will land,” is just the start of the one-minute jam. 

It’s easy to mock, but if we’re sharing it, so mission accomplished? 

Another line from the song says, “Wear a mask if you’re falling sick / Go see a doctor, don’t be so thick.” In all honesty, it is the kind of line small children might enjoy shouting in each other’s faces.

Crowded Singapore has been one of the most palpably nervous governments in Asia since the beginning of the outbreak. It has done a fairly good job of holding the Wuhan virus at bay so far, with nine new cases reported on Friday for a total of 67. 17 of the patients have been discharged, while six remain in critical condition. There have not yet been any coronavirus-related fatalities in Singapore.

Most of those cases are linked to five “clusters” of people who traveled across China or had contact with Chinese visitors, including two churches and a business meeting held at the Grand Hyatt hotel. 

Singaporean officials have placed a high priority on finding “Patient Zero” from the Grand Hyatt, the individual who infected over a dozen people from five different countries who attended a sales meeting at the luxury establishment. The World Health Organization (WHO) is also investigating the Grand Hyatt meeting as a possible “super spreader” event.

Health authorities expressed some frustration at Singaporeans insisting on going out to work and enjoy recreational activities despite the government encouraging them to stay at home until the epidemic is under control. The government has asked doctors to provide all patients complaining of respiratory problems with five-day medical certificates to keep them home from work.

“With mild symptoms, we sometimes let our guard down. We continue going out even though we don’t really feel well and that’s how the virus transmits,” National Development Minister Lawrence Wong said on Friday.

Health Minister Gan Kim-yong said on Friday that despite rumors to the contrary, there are no current plans to raise Singapore’s pandemic alert level from orange to red, its highest level. When the alert was raised from yellow to orange last week, it triggered a panic rush on supplies at local supermarkets.

On the other hand, senior official Janil Puthucheary of the Ministry of Transport said on Thursday the worst of the epidemic might still lie ahead for Singapore.

“I think it’s really too early to talk about a peak. Cases are coming in on a daily basis and you have to have the expectation there are going to be more cases over the next few weeks,” he told CNBC.

”The issue is really whether these are going to be cases that are linked to the existing spread, existing cluster, links to China or whether we have an increasing number of cases that are unlinked community spread,” he added.

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