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COVID-19: An ESSEC Alumnus Reports From Singapore

Interviews

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15/04/2020

Singapore is going through another outbreak. Christophe Gonet (B17), president of the Singapore Chapter, comments on the situation – and how it might unfold.

ESSEC Alumni: What is the current situation in Singapore?

Christophe Gonet: April 8th’s numbers bring the total number of cases in Singapore to 1,623. To date, a total of 406 cases have fully recovered from the infection and have been discharged from hospitals or community isolation facilities. Of the 669 confirmed cases still in hospital, most are stable or improving, with 29 in critical condition in the intensive care unit. Six have died from complications due to COVID-19 infection.

EA: How did Singapore respond to the recent recrudescence of infected cases?

C. Gonet: Effective from this week, Singapore has implemented a “Circuit Breaker”. It is the equivalent of a lockdown where people are asked to stay at home as much as possible. Social gatherings of any size at home or public spaces are now banned, eating outside is not allowed but groceries shopping remains permitted as well as physical exercise in open-air stadiums and public parks. 

EA: Every country has a different approach to COVID-19. What would you say is specific to Singapore’s strategy? 

C. Gonet: I am impressed with the way the Singapore Government is managing its communication during this crisis. Aside from ministers’ speeches on local broadcasts, some applications such as “Trace Together” have been developed in record time and WhatsApp is used to send two transparent and clear updates daily. There is no room for rumors.

EA: How does this situation impact you and the people around you?

C. Gonet: From a personal standpoint, the most difficult part is to manage the children as they have to continue their education through home-based programmes. It requires a strong adaptation from parents who still need to maintain a decent level of productivity for their own work. I was reading this morning an article entitled “Surviving Lockdown with Teens at Home” – that gives you the actual mindset!

EA: And professionally wise? 

C. Gonet: We have been used to work remotely for a while since the rise of communication tools such as Skype, Teams, Zoom, etc. To me, the two main difficulties are firstly: constant remote work with no physical contacts and 24/7 availability, and secondly: the unpredictability of this crisis, unlike the precedent MERS or SARS pandemics. What will be the aftermath? How long is it going to take to recover? what are all the possible scenarios and how do we plan around them?

EA: How is the post-crisis period shaping up in Singapore?

C. Gonet: I’m convinced there will be a pre and post COVID-19 era. Government will be more protective in ensuring healthcare autonomy. Working remotely will become the new norm, leading to financial and environmental benefits. The Singapore Government is also implementing some relief measures to support businesses and Singaporeans. I am worried for foreigners and foreign companies who will be more strongly impacted financially.

EA: What news do you have from the local ESSEC community in this context?

C. Gonet: There is a rise of solidarity amongst the community, as evidenced by the many messages on ESSEC Alumni’s international COVID-19 platform. Our WhatsApp group is also very active in sharing any concerns, useful tips during the lockdown and even job offerings. Our community can and will cement in the adversity!


Interview by Veary Ngy, International  Community Manager at ESSEC Alumni, and Louis Armengaud Wurmser (E10), Content Manager at ESSEC Alumni

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