Contagious Compassion? Punggol residents turn lift into refuge from virus

Protective face masks, at left, and a bottle of hand sanitizer left inside a lift in Punggol housing block. Photo: Collike/Facebook
Protective face masks, at left, and a bottle of hand sanitizer left inside a lift in Punggol housing block. Photo: Collike/Facebook

As the supply of face masks and hand sanitizers runs out across the island due to Wuhan virus anxiety, some residents in Punggol have pulled together to make sure their neighbors don’t get left out of the fight against the disease. 

At a time when fear drives the worst impulses of self-preservation, some residents of Block 267B Punggol Field have turned their elevators into a refuge from the virus, with hand sanitizers, protective face masks and alcohol swabs left for those in need.

“Press me, use what you need. From resident g,” a note for a hand sanitizer tied to a lift’s railing read.

“Use in highly contagious places,” another note attached to a packet of N95 masks said.

The fight against the Wuhan coronavirus continues in Singapore where it has infected 18 people, two of whom were citizens evacuated from the outbreak epicenter last Friday. 

Anxiety over the virus led to panic buying among Singaporeans, depleting supplies of face masks at retail stores including those by the Watson and Guardian chains. Singapore on Saturday began giving out free face masks, limited to four pieces per household. 

Nevertheless, there can never be enough face masks, it seems, which is why the generosity of the Punggol residents is being lauded online. 

A Facebook post containing photos of the residents’ contribution to each other has been shared more than 5,000 times since being posted to the page called Collike

“It started off with someone in the BLK of 267B Punggol field, placing a bottle of hand sanitizer and masks in the lift. After that more neighbors joined in the ‘pay it forward’ initiatives. Neighbors started to chip in surgical masks, alcohol swabs, N95 masks … Hope this Singapore Kindness can spread faster than the Wuhan virus,” the post read. 

Philip Sim was among the hundreds to commend the residents.

If we all behave like this, instead of being kiasi and kiasu, we will be so much better off! Keep it up,” he wrote in the comments, citing the popular Hokkien dialect word for being overly worried about death (kiasi) and selfish (kiasu).

“Great job guys! It’ll really help those who can’t get masks and hand sanitizers,” Facebook user Clive Christopher Chua wrote. 

Others in the comments also posted photos of similar acts of kindness happening in other housing blocks and neighborhoods, such as in Block 665C Punggol Drive and in Bedok. 

Hand sanitizer at Block 665C Punggol Drive. Photo: Agnes Chong/Facebook
Hand sanitizer at Block 665C Punggol Drive. Photo: Agnes Chong/Facebook
Hand sanitizer in Bedok. Photo: Danny Goh JinWei/Facebook
Hand sanitizer in Bedok. Photo: Danny Goh JinWei/Facebook

The coronavirus has infected more than 20,000 people in China and killed more than 400 as of Tuesday morning.

Singapore has barred entry or transit by travelers who recently visited mainly China and quarantined those who are already in the country. National Development Minister Lawrence Wong said Sunday more than 500 are either being quarantined at home or at government facilities. 

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