Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, many people around the globe have had their life badly affected by it. However, one group that has been hit particularly hard is frontline workers as they have been working tirelessly around the clock to deal with the disease, while at the same time discriminated by the public due to various reasons such as the fear of being infected.
In Singapore, things are no different and this can be seen in the latest ordeal shared by a male nurse on his Instagram account, @jibby4g.
The nurse said that on 3 March this year, his neighbour poured a bucket of soap water towards the entrance of his front gate. The neighbour committed the appalling act while the nurse was on his way to send his son to school.
“Sending my son to school, soap water outside the house. Still being sprayed. They claim to spray their gate and always a coincident my son was there. When actually they can spray all they want when no one is home or after the kids are out in school,” he wrote in the caption of his video that he posted on Instagram.
He added, “My son would cough due to the strong smell of the disinfecting solution and when he cough, the school centre will reject him. If bring him see doc, will be given SHN… when I am out of leave/CCL, how? Take no pay leave?
This incident was also shared by other groups like Wake Up, Singapore and Singapore Nursing where a video of the neighbour clearly pouring a pail of soapy water towards the nurse’s gate was shared.
The groups also pointed out that the family had filed police reports last year but to no avail, as this was not the first time the frontliner’s family had encountered this ordeal.
Back in May last year, the nurse’s neighbour did the same thing where he and his family were repeatedly harassed by their neighbour who mocked, hurled vulgarities, spray disinfecting solution and cursed them every time they come back to their home.
This was reported by TOC.
The male nurse then wrote, “This is how it looks like coming home now. Doubt it will stop as long as we are neighbours and as long as i am working as a nurse.”
“I am called obai, kanina, virus, dirty family and virus family and was sprayed with Dettol. Just so sad. What have my family ever done to you that we deserve this treatment from you guys.” said the male nurse.
He shared that they had been good neighbours for the past 5 years and said, “suddenly after this pandemic happen, they knew that we are frontliners and this is the treatment we receive.”
In fact, the male nurse said that even the parents who fetched their kids had allegedly verbally abused and been sprayed.
Healthcare workers discriminated by the public
The story of this male nurse being discriminated by his neighbour is not the only story that has been happening in the country since the pandemic started.
There have been numerous reports highlighting how healthcare workers are shunned by the public as they are feared to be in close contact with COVID-19 cases.
Commenting on this, then-Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Home Affairs Amrin Amin said in February last year that this act is “disgraceful”.
“There’s one issue that I would like to comment on, which is on discrimination faced by our healthcare officers. We have read reports of nurses being asked not to take the lift, take the stairs instead. Nurses have been asked to leave the train … Ambulance drivers being asked not to buy food, so as not to contaminate others,” said Mr Amrin.
He added, “These are very unfortunate incidents, and it’s very disgraceful.”
Echoing the same sentiment, Health Minister Gan Kim Yong had also appealed to the public to not discriminate healthcare workers.
While he understands Singaporeans’ concerns and anxieties over the coronavirus situation, Mr Gan said: “I would like to take this opportunity to appeal to Singaporeans not to do so.
Recently, there have also been reports revealing that discrimination against healthcare workers has increased even more, especially after Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH) was declared as a cluster.
The President of Healthcare Services Employees’ Union (HSEU) K Thanaletchimi said to Channel News Asia (CNA) that staff members of the hospital have been encountering problems like passengers would move away from them or wear their masks tighter against their faces when they are on public transport.
“While it is understandable that the pandemic has taken a toll on everyone, this does not mean that we can be rude and inconsiderate towards others,” she said.
“It is a testament of their dedication that despite the high level of stress and occasional demoralising incidences, they still carry on performing their duties without prejudice,” Ms Thanaletchimi said.
Earlier this month (4 May), MOH’s director of medical services Kenneth Mak said that there have been incidents where healthcare workers were told that they are not welcomed at their place of accommodation, by landlords who had heard that they worked at TTSH.
“This is a concern for us because these workers are well and they have committed a lot of time and energy towards looking after patients in TTSH,” he said.
“So we (also) endeavour to support them, (by) making sure that they have… accommodation through this difficult time, when they are being called up to do much more than what they would normally be expected to.”
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong had also said in a Facebook that it is “distressing” to see such a conduct from the public.