Singapore's Covid-19 journey: 10 best photos capturing the pandemic
From fast-paced scenes in hospital corridors to poignant aerial images showing empty locales that teemed before the pandemic; from a migrant worker tearing up from a nasal swab to an only son stoic amid the loss of his mother, The Straits Times (ST) picture desk has documented the coronavirus and its impact on Singapore since it struck in January 2020.
Some of its work illustrates In This Together: Singapore's Covid-19 Story, a new book published by Straits Times Press that was released on Thursday (Jan 20), about Singapore's two-year fight against the pandemic.
The selections below are accompanied by the reflections of the ST photographers behind them.
1. Neo Xiaobin
"We've seen scenes like this all around the world now, so it's perhaps not as shocking to see hospital staff in full personal protective equipment (PPE) two years on, but my respect for the healthcare workers has only increased because while we all feel the pandemic fatigue, they are right on the front lines and I don't think anyone of us can imagine the mental and physical stress they face daily."
2.Ng Sor Luan
"In the beginning, all I saw were marking strips of yellow, black, or red. But people quickly became creative - large or tiny stickers, overlaid or otherwise, some even came with jokes or handwritten notes. Worn-out tape and stickers later showed how long the pandemic had gone on."
3. Chong Jun Liang
The Malaysian government gave barely 24 hours' notice when it announced a two-week nationwide travel ban in a bid to beat Covid-19. It was a rude shock to more than 350,000 people who use the land crossing daily, most of them Malaysians working or studying in Singapore. I reached Johor Baru at about 7.30pm and started to photograph the chaotic jams, following a stoic crowd who decided that walking across the Causeway was faster than taking a car or bus.
"At that moment, who knew that the borders would end up closed for almost two years before the vaccinated travel lane (VTL) was put in place? The last time the Causeway shut down dates back to World War II, when the British bombed it in a futile attempt to stop the Japanese advance."
4. Mark Cheong
"Looking at this picture, I am reminded of the extremely frustrating and sorry situation that dormitory residents had to deal with. It serves as a reminder of how good the rest of us have it, and how some of the restrictions that affected our daily lives were incredibly First World problems, compared with what migrant workers went through during those months."
5. Kevin Lim
"This photo was taken during a time when migrant workers were maligned and blamed for the number of Covid-19 cases. I had hoped that the photo could add to the discussion of their living environments, provoking thought and challenging mindsets along the way. The face represents, for me, one of the many Covid-19 cases which arose in migrant worker dormitories that brought to light their overcrowded situation."
6. Benjamin Seetor, Mark Cheong
"Looking at the photo now, the emptiness of what we know as a 'bustling' city seems surreal. As much as we enjoyed the space and peacefulness during the circuit breaker, we hope the virus will be defeated soon and the world can reconnect once again."
7. Gavin Foo
"When I look at the picture now, I feel that we are all still trying to play our part amid the pandemic - head in one direction, united - but the destination remains unknown."
8. Jason Quah
"It was a rare opportunity to observe and take photos of politicians in a more candid setting, compared with the staged or carefully orchestrated 'diary' events which I previously photographed them at."
9. Kua Chee Siong
"After covering the pandemic for two years and being consumed with news on the latest Covid-19 numbers and emerging variants, Mr Ng's story still deeply touches me and brings home the risk of infection. It could happen to any of us."
10. Lim Yaohui
"For this shoot, I remember that a few days before, I had to try five different models and sizes of N95 masks before 'passing' a mask-fitting test. I then had to declare a negative antigen rapid test result on each of the three days I went inside the hospital to take photos.
"After every shoot, I would use alcohol wipes to sanitise my equipment, spray my shoes with sanitiser when I got to the doorstep of my house, and shower and wash my clothes straightaway. The virus may be invisible to the naked eye, but it does not mean it does not exist."
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