S$3.2 million raised for frontline groups, Singaporeans affected by COVID-19 outbreak: Desmond Lee

S$3.2 million raised for frontline groups, Singaporeans affected by COVID-19 outbreak: Desmond Lee

Desmond Lee visits Civil Service Club @ Loyang Feb 29, 2020 (5)
Minister for Social and Family Development Desmond Lee shakes hands with the housekeeping staff at Civil Service Club @ Loyang on Feb 29, 2020. (Photo: Marcus Ramos)

SINGAPORE: About S$3.2 million has been raised for a fund to help frontline groups and Singaporeans affected by the coronavirus outbreak, said Minister for Social and Family Development Desmond Lee on Saturday (Feb 29). 

Speaking on the sidelines of a visit to one of Singapore's government quarantine facilities, the CSC @ Loyang, Mr Lee thanked those who contributed "for caring for one another in this time". 

The Courage Fund was set up in 2003 when Singapore was hit by the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak. 

Desmond Lee visits Civil Service Club @ Loyang Feb 29, 2020 (6)
Minister for Social and Family Development Desmond Lee interacts with SPF frontline officers at Civil Service Club @ Loyang on Feb 29, 2020. (Photo: Marcus Ramos)

Mr Lee said the fund will be used during the COVID-19 outbreak "as part of overall efforts to support our frontline and support people who are affected by COVID-19". Disbursements will be carried out on an "application basis", Mr Lee added. 

Among those who may benefit from the fund are healthcare workers on the frontline, including doctors, nurses, hospital staff and cleaners. 

"If they are infected by COVID-19, we will use The Courage Fund and support them, over and above what other support we provide for them," said Mr Lee. 

Desmond Lee visits Civil Service Club @ Loyang Feb 29, 2020 (4)
Minister for Social and Family Development Desmond Lee distributes welfare packs to the frontline workers at Civil Service Club @ Loyang on Feb 29, 2020. (Photo: Marcus Ramos)

Other frontline workers, such as the Certis Cisco officer who was infected by the virus while carrying out home quarantine duties, will also be supported. 

The Courage Fund also supports families of those who die from COVID-19. For example, the children of healthcare workers, frontline workers and community volunteers will be offered education grants, said Mr Lee.

In addition, volunteers who get infected with the virus may receive support from the fund "because they have shown courage, in terms of adversity, stepped forward to help frontline fellow Singaporeans", said Mr Lee. 

Desmond Lee visits Civil Service Club @ Loyang Feb 29, 2020 (7)
Minister for Social and Family Development Desmond Lee visits a room at Civil Service Club @ Loyang on Feb 29, 2020. (Photo: Marcus Ramos)

The minister also said that Singaporeans who are affected by the outbreak, including patients and individuals placed under quarantine or the Stay-Home Notice, may benefit.

This is in addition to the home quarantine allowance, the ComCare Fund and other forms of community assistance already available. 

"The Courage Fund acts as an extra layer of support," said Mr Lee. 

Desmond Lee visits Civil Service Club @ Loyang Feb 29, 2020 (8)
Minister for Social and Family Development Desmond Lee looks at the basic amenities provided to persons under quarantine. (Photo: Marcus Ramos)

Citing Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat's Budget speech on Feb 18, Mr Lee said that Singapore has its national reserves to count on "in times of crisis", but "there are other forms of reserves, beyond fiscal reserves, like our unity, resilience and the courage of the community". 

"At a time like this where everyone looks out for each other, beyond looking after ourselves and our families, I think that will put us in a stronger position and for Singapore to overcome the situation," said Mr Lee. 

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Source: CNA/hs

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