Omicron worries, work deter some Singaporeans from returning home, Latest Singapore News - The New Paper

Omicron worries, work deter some Singaporeans from returning home

During the festive season, Ms Jeannette Tan has been busy serving on the Covid-19 front line.

The nurse, based in Adelaide city, in Australia, is among overseas Singaporeans who decided to stay put for the Christmas and New Year holidays. They cited various reasons - from worries about the rampaging Omicron variant of Covid-19 to work commitments.

Ms Tan, 27, said: "Unfortunately, we healthcare professionals are shift workers, and we have to work on both Christmas and New Year's Day."

Mr Joshua Yow, 21, a first-year undergraduate at the University of London's School of Oriental and African Studies, said the rapid spread of the Omicron variant in Britain and evolving restrictions have deterred him from returning home.

Instead, he spent the holidays in Italy with his university friends, but everyone in the group got infected with Covid-19 - except for him and another flatmate.

"The pandemic has been mentally exhausting for me as I want to see my family," he added.

"It is also scary as it has endangered everyone around me, and there is a constant (sense of) distance in my personal relationships with others."

Housewife Aurelia Tan, who lives in Melbourne, said that pre-pandemic, she would spend Christmas in Singapore with friends and relatives, but this festive season, she will have to give it a miss again.

"I fear being stranded by border closures. The costs of the required polymerase chain reaction tests are also high," added the 45-year-old, who has been away from Singapore for 18 years.

Mr Noel Png, 28, has stayed on in Glasgow as it is a peak period for the space industry start-up he works at.

"I didn't want to be stuck working in Singapore with an eight-hour time difference," he said.

The recent graduate of Glasgow University fell sick on Boxing Day and tested positive for Covid-19.

For those not coming home, technology has made things easier.

Ms Ong Shiu Jern, 24, a structural engineer in Hong Kong on a work assignment, said she will be calling her loved ones.

"I use Zoom and Instagram Stories to share with my family my life here. It is actually really effective," she added.

She celebrated the year-end holidays with friends, including having a Christmas dinner with them.

Ms Clarissa Chu, 21, a third-year undergraduate at the University of Sussex, also celebrated the festive season with her friends.

During their Christmas dinner, she called her family, with her aunts, uncles and cousins joining the call from Malaysia.

She added: "I miss local food, which I don't get to eat here often."

Meanwhile, Ms Jeannette Tan hopes to return home to celebrate Chinese New Year with her parents and younger brother, with the easing of Covid-19 restrictions for both Singapore and Australia.

"It has been two years since I have been back due to the pandemic," she said.

Ms Tan has already made plans for when she returns home - and it involves comfort food such as Hokkien mee and char kway teow.