How Singapore kept COVID-19 off campus

By: | January 11, 2021

Following the government’s lead, universities in Singapore, a semi-authoritarian city-state of almost 6 million people, have taken a top-down approach to managing the coronavirus. The result: Since the start of the pandemic last year, not one person has been found to have contracted the virus at any of Singapore’s three major universities.

While Singapore’s universities have benefited from a generally low caseload in its broader population, their experience and stringent measures stand in stark contrast to many campuses across the United States. A number of U.S. universities experienced an explosion in cases almost as soon as students returned last fall.

The National University of Singapore, or NUS, describes its strategy as containment, decongestion and contact tracing. The university has harnessed technology to enforce social distancing measures, assigned students to different zones on campus and imposed tough penalties for flouting the rules. Like some U.S. colleges, it is testing people extensively and even sifting through sewage for traces of the virus.

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