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Timeline: Managing the outbreak of COVID-19

The beginning of 2020 was overshadowed by the outbreak of the COVID-19 that has sparked social unrest throughout the globe.

Master Cheng Yen said, “We ought to be awakened to the lessons brought by alarming disasters”. As the world observes vigilance over the disease, may Tzu Chi volunteers continue to bring peace to the community and take full preventive measures to prevent the disease from spreading.

Here is a timeline of how Tzu Chi Singapore manages COVID-19 since the beginning of the outbreak.


  • 22 Jan

    [Confirmed case: 0]

    Singapore: Government set up multi-agency task force
    Government set up measures such as temperature screening at airport.

    timeline 20200122
  • 23 Jan

    [Confirmed case: 1]

    First confirmed case
    The first confirmed case is a 66 year old tourist from Wuhan who arrived in Singapore on 20 Jan.

  • 24 Jan

    [Confirmed cases: 3]

    Singapore: Masks shortage seen in some retail stores
    Due to anxiety over the outbreak, some residents started panic buying of face masks.

    Tzu Chi: Compliance with precautionary measures advised by the government
    Medical and Education establishments followed the guidelines from the respective government agencies and put in place the precautionary measures.

    timeline 20200124
  • 27 Jan

    [Confirmed cases: 5]

    Singapore: Authorities fight spread of fake news
    Ministry of Health has instructed the office overseeing the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (POFMA) to issue a general correction notice to a forum that has made a false statement.

    Tzu Chi: Implementation of self quarantine measures
    Human resource department sent out a circular requesting staff members who have recently returned from mainland China to quarantine themselves for 14 days.

    timeline 20200127
  • 28 Jan

    [Confirmed cases: 7]

    Singapore: Tracing and isolating high risk groups
    Ministry of Health contacted those who had been to Hu Bei Province, China, during the 14 days before entering Singapore, to undergo quarantine.

  • 29 Jan

    [Confirmed cases: 10]

    Singapore: Quarantine order allowance scheme
    Self-employed persons or employers of the quarantined individuals are entitled to a 100 Singapore dollars allowance a day.

    Tzu Chi: Nationwide DORSCON Yellow precautions in place
    Tzu Chi conducted the first cross department meeting to tackle the outbreak. All establishments began implementing precautionary measures. Cluster activities are cancelled or suspended. The foundation also began consolidating preventive equipment for the outbreak.

    timeline 20200129
  • 30 Jan

    [Confirmed cases: 13]

    Singapore: Government started distributing 4 face masks per household
    A total of 1.37 million households can collect face masks from grassroot committees. Government discourages people from hoarding face masks.

    timeline 20200130
  • 31 Jan

    [Confirmed cases: 16]

    Singapore: Prime Minister visited the National Centre for Infectious Disease
    Prime Minister visited the National Centre for Infectious Disease situated beside Tan Tock Seng Hospital. It is the main institution taking care of COVID-19 patients.

    Tzu Chi: Tzu Chi released outbreak related news and shared information on the right ways to maintain personal hygiene.

  • 2 Feb

    [Confirmed cases: 18]

    Singapore: Stabilisation and support package for Transportation and Tourism industries
    Deputy Prime Minister announced that Budget 2020 will help to revitalize the transportation and tourism industries.

    Tzu Chi: Sharing of information on precautionary measures to care recipients
    477 volunteers visited 466 care recipients across the island in groups of 3 to 4 to share about the right ways to prevent the virus from spreading. 

    timeline 20200202
  • 3 Feb

    [Confirmed cases: 18]

    Singapore: Some recent travellers to Singapore were forced to move out of their rental homes
    Some landlords demanded that the tenants who recently returned to Singapore to move out due to the concern of being infected. Some entreprises therefore support their employees' temporary housing.

    Tzu Chi: Prayer session on every afternoon initiated
    All Tzu Chi establishments took part in the afternoon Prayer session as advocated by Tzu Chi Taiwan, with the hope to gather kind thoughts to calm the society.

    timeline 20200203
  • 4 Feb

    [Confirmed cases: 24]

    Singapore: First cluster of local transmission in Singapore
    Schools, senior activity centres etc. suspend big group activities.

  • 7 Feb

    [Confirmed cases: 33]

    Singapore: DORSCON level raised to Orange
    Government raised DORSCON level to Orange after 3 cases of COVID-19 without any links to previous cases or travel history to China.

    Tzu Chi: Stepped up on the precautionary measures
    The foundation has stepped up on its precautionary measures in every Tzu Chi establishments, cancelling all big group and overseas activities, and slowed down on the visits to care recipients' homes. Administrative meetings are conducted online.
    (News: Everyone is responsible to prevent COVID-19 from spreading)

    timeline 20200207
  • 8 Feb

    [Confirmed cases: 40]

    Singapore: Panic buying
    Civilians started panic buying of daily necessities 2 nights ago, with some travelling to Johor Bahru to stock up their food supply.  

    Tzu Chi: Task group formed to tackle the outbreak
    The task group which consists of head of departments was formed, with Dr Edwin Lim serving as the medical consultant. The number of volunteers on duty in various Tzu Chi establishments are regulated and restricted while cross working in different Tzu Chi establishments are minimised. 
    (新闻: Tzu Chi sets up an epidemic relief committee to ward off COVID-19 / Protecting students through daily disinfection of classrooms / Tzu Chi recycling volunteers unaffected by COVID-19)

    timeline 20200208
  • 9 Feb

    [Confirmed cases: 43]

    Singapore: Government emphasised that resources and supply are adequate
    Government and supermarkets both emphasised that local supplies of daily necessities are adequate.

    timeline 20200209
  • 10 Feb

    [Confirmed cases: 45]

    Singapore: Doctors' movement restricted
    To prevent cross infections, Ministry of Health restricted the movement of healthcare workers across different hospitals, limiting all healthcare workers to only work at one medical institution.

    Tzu Chi: First meeting of task force
    An epidemic relief committee was set up to scrutinize if the precautionary measures in each Tzu Chi office was adequate, and draw up plans for certain groups who require more care (care recipients, front line staff etc). 

    timeline 20200210
  • 11 Feb

    [Confirmed cases: 47]

    Singapore: Singapore and Malaysia set up cross country task force for the outbreak
    In view of the frequent travelling of the infected cases between Singapore and Malaysia, the two countries set up cross country task force for the outbreak, to share information about COVID-19.

    Tzu Chi: Sub-plans drawn up
    Three sub-projects were rolled out in the epidemic relief project, namely the Tzu Chi Epidemic Relief Programme for all staff and volunteers working at Tzu Chi's medical and education establishments, the Epidemic Relief Programmed for Tzu Chi Care Recipients which targets over 700 care recipient families that are receiving Tzu Chi's long term aid and finally, the Temporary Settlement Programme for Returning Workers for Chinese national workers who are placed in a temporary quarantine facility. 

  • 13 Feb

    [Confirmed cases: 58]

    Singapore: Grants to taxi drivers and private car drivers
    A number of infections were spread via taxi and private car drivers, resulting in a drop in their business. Ministry of Transport drew up a few schemes to tackle the situation faced by drivers.

    Tzu Chi:  
    One stop website and online wish board

    A one stop website was created to consolidate information and make it easy for readers to find out how Tzu Chi is managing the outbreak. An online wish board was also set up to invite the public to send their words of encouragement to front line workers.

    Decoration of the temporary facility for returning foreign workers
    Tzu Chi helped to set up book shelves with books and indoor plants for the dormitory, and pasted Jing si aphorisms on the walls, to improve the humanistic ambience.

    timeline 20200213
  • 14 Feb

    [Confirmed cases: 67]

    Singapore: Catholic churches stopped large scale masses
    Catholic churches stopped large scale masses as two clusters of infections were related to churches.

    Tzu Chi: 
    Handing out care packages to frontline workers on Valentine's Day

    Tzu Chi's board members and representative sent blessings to Tzu Chi's medical and education departments, and 3 partner hospitals, namely Tan Tock Seng Hospital, Khoo Teck Puat hospital and Ng Teng Fong Hospital.
    (News: Sending Love amidst COVID-19 outbreak / A Special Love, For You Who Defend Us at the Frontline / Tzu Chi offers moral support to frontliners amidst the coronavirus outbreak.)

    Sending gift packs to returned foreign workers.
    Went to the dormitory of returned foreign workers for the first time, to present the gift packs to them.

    timeline 20200214
  • 17 Feb

    [Confirmed cases: 77]

    Singapore: Stay home notice to take over Leave of absence
    Stay home notice is stricter than Leave of absence, as people serving the stay home notice are not allowed to step out of their homes for 14 days, unlike the latter that allowed people to leave their homes briefly to buy food or necessities.

  • 18 Feb

    [Confirmed cases: 81]

    Singapore: Government rolled out Assurance package
    In Budget 2020, Government has rolled out a $6 billion Assurance package for entreprises, workers, families and front line workers who are affected by the outbreak.

    Tzu Chi: First round of aid distribution for care recipients
    Distributed goodies consisting of 4 pieces of face masks, hand sanitizers, vitamin C and Jing si instant rice to the 155 care recipients who urgently needed supplies. 
    (News: Tzu Chi's epidemic relief programme for care recipients / Home visits with loving care amidst COVID-19 outbreak)

    timeline 20200218
  • 21 Feb

    [Confirmed cases: 86]

    Singapore: Employers to abide by the guidelines on Leave of Absence or Stay Home Notice
    The Ministry of Manpower has warned employers not to deduct the annual leave of employees with Leave of Absence or Stay Home Notice, failing which, their work-pass privileges will be withdrawn.

    Tzu Chi: Jing Si Bookstore and Cafe offers discount on beverages for healthcare workers
    Jing Si Bookstore and Cafe at Tzu Chi Humanistic Youth Centre has offered a 15% discount off beverages for healthcare workers.

  • 26 Feb

    [Confirmed cases: 93]

    Singapore: Using serological tests to find the link between infection clusters
    Using serological tests, Singapore managed to trace the missing cases who have already recovered from Covid-19, making Singapore the first country to use this method to find the link between infected cases.

    Tzu Chi: 
    2 weeks of Business Continuity Exercise

    As part of the businss continuity plan, Tzu Chi implemented a two week business continuity exercise at Jing Si Hall to simulate the work process when DORSCON alert is raised to Red.

    Audio recording
    Tzu Ching and volunteers went to the recording studio that partners with Humanistic Youth Centre, to make an audio recording as part of the programme for returning foreign workers.

    timeline 20200226
  • 27 Feb

    [Confirmed cases: 96]

    Singapore: A couple were charged in court for providing false information to the Ministry of Health
    The couple had told several lies regarding their movements and whereabouts during their quarantine period.

    Tzu Chi: 
    Tzu Chi sends care packages to TIMA members

    Tzu Chi distributed 145 care packages to TIMA members who work in their own clinic or local hospitals before 11 March.

    Members of Tzu Chi Entrepreneurs Association visit returnees who have completed their quarantine at the temporary facility
    Several entrepreneurs make trips to the dormitory everyday to visit and pass care packages to returnees who have completed their quarantine.
    (News: Tzu Chi makes quarantine easier for returning workers from China)

    timeline 20200228
  • 2 Mar

    [Confirmed cases: 108]

    Singapore: Air transport companies receive funding for training
    Unionised aviation companies will receive an additional S$500,000 funding to upskill their workers.

    Tzu Chi: A concert was held at Tzu Chi Humanistic Youth Centre to thank healthcare workers
    To show appreciation to healthcare workers working nearby, Tzu Chi Humanistic Youth Centre has worked with Playground Studio and Realfood to host a Music is Love concert during lunchtime on every Monday.
    (News: Social enterprises thank frontline healthcare workers the gastronomic way)

    timeline 20200302
  • 5 Mar

    [Confirmed cases: 117]

    Singapore: Travellers to Singapore who appear feverish or display signs of respiratory illness to undergo a nasal swab test at all checkpoints
    A new kit has been developed to collect nasopharyngeal swab samples from people with fever and respiratory conditions at checkpoints. It takes 3 hours to get the result.

    Tzu Chi: The foundation initiated a vegetarianism campaign among volunteers.
    Adopting a vegetarian diet is not only healthy but also one of the best ways to stay away from the source of virus, therefore, a vegetarianism campaign is initiated among volunteers.
    (News: Preschool children responded positively to adopting a vegetarian diet)

  • 10 Mar

    [Confirmed cases: 166]

    Singapore: Suspension of activities for seniors
    All senior activities conducted by government agencies will be suspended for 14 days from 11 March to 24 March.

    Tzu Chi: Tzu Chi Humanistic Youth Centre held an art exhibition to pay tribute to those affected by the epidemic
    Tzu Chi Humanistic Youth Centre's partner, 3Pumpkins worked with Jimmy Ong (a local installation artist) to host the Poverty Quilt exhibition at the Humanistic Youth Centre. Besides commemorating loved ones who have passed away, the exhibition also pays tribute to people who are suffering from the epidemic worldwide.

    timeline 20200310
  • 14 Mar

    [Confirmed cases: 212]

    Singapore: A call by the Government to observe social distancing received mixed reactions from the public.
    While many owners and tenants of public places have started observing this latest measure advised by the government, the public is trying to live life as normal as possible.

    Tzu Chi: Launching of broadcasting programme for quarantined returnees staying in dormitory
    The pre-recorded radio programme is broadcasted for 3.5 hours a day from Monday to Friday, and there is a 2 hours song selection session during weekends..

    timeline 20200314
  • 17 Mar

    [Confirmed cases: 266]

    Singapore: Second round of panic buying across Singapore
    The panic buying was caused by the concern of limited food supply after the Malaysian government announced a lockdown measure that runs from 18 March until 31 March.

    timeline 20200317
  • 18 Mar

    [Confirmed cases: 313]

    Singapore: Provision of short term housing and accommodation subsidy for Malaysian workers
    More than 10 thousand Malaysian workers were given temporary accommodation during the lockdown imposed by the Malaysian government. Companies that need to relocate their employees urgently will receive an accommodation subsidy of S$50 per employee per night for a maximum of 14 days.

    Tzu Chi: Alternate Working Arrangement for Jing Si Hall is now official
    After conducting a business continuity exercise for two weeks at the end of February, an alternate working arrangement for the foundation's core departments as part of its sustainability plan is now official. Employees are divided into two groups to work at different workplaces to reduce the possibility of cross infection. 
    (News: Prepared for the worst with a Business Continuity Plan)

    timeline 20200318

(Last updated on 23 Mar 2020)