The Big Read in brief: How has life changed months after the Covid-19 crisis – or hasn’t it? | Wbactive

Aside from mask-wearing and increased hygiene awareness, Singapore’s healthcare system has also seen major changes that will last, such as the increasing adoption of telemedicine.

According to the Ministry of Health (MOH) website, as of Nov. 14, there are 178 clinics in Singapore offering consultations, rapid antigen testing, or both via video conferencing.

While the use of videoconferencing tools for medical consultations had been trialled before the pandemic, Integrated Health Information Systems (IHiS) executive vice president Alan Goh said the crisis was “an impetus for accelerated adoption by both patients and providers.” “.

Before Covid-19, IHiS – the IT arm of the MOH – had around 1,900 patients using video consultations. The number jumped to over 34,000 in 2020 and over 120,000 in 2021.

The number has continued to rise: in the first seven months of this year alone, around 170,000 patients consulted their doctor online.

“We see this as an opportunity to capitalize on the current dynamic, where residents now have more comfort and familiarity with using digital solutions as part of their lived experience,” said Mr. Goh.

With staying in the depths of the pandemic the default option for many, Singapore consumers spent an average of S$105.23 per month on grocery delivery services in 2020, more than double the previous year (S$67.54), based on commissioned survey by Deliveroo in 2021.

The trend has continued this year, based on sales figures reported by Grab, one of Southeast Asia’s largest ride-hailing and food delivery companies.

Grab’s Singapore Food and Grocery Trends Report 2022 showed that grocery delivery sales volume increased by 24 percent year-on-year in the second quarter of 2022.

The company also reported that consumers used its grocery delivery service on average 1.5 times more each month in the first half of 2022 than the monthly average in 2019.


E-commerce also benefited during the pandemic as consumers sought to get their retail solution online while stuck at home, and its convenience still appeals to consumers today.

Ms Megan Ong, director of the Singapore Institute of Retail Studies at Nanyang Polytechnic, said her analysis shows that e-commerce in Singapore “will continue to grow over the next few years” as more retailers adopt online sales as an additional channel would.

“Shoppers’ willingness to make purchases online will continue to drive growth… We believe these changes are unlikely to be reversible. It’s become part of our lifestyle,” she said.

According to 2022 data collected by Google, Temasek and Bain and Company, the compound annual growth rate for Singapore’s e-commerce sector was 82 percent between 2019 and 2021 – underscoring explosive growth during the pandemic years.

However, the compound annual growth rate from 2021 to 2022 was only 4 percent.

Earlier this month, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg told the 11,000 workers his company laid off that they were laid off in part because he overestimated the staying power of the pandemic’s e-commerce boom.

As shoppers returned to physical stores, e-commerce sales growth slowed.

Still, Ms Ong of the Singapore Institute of Retail Studies attributed the slowdown in e-commerce to macro conditions affecting buying sentiment, rather than a post-Covid-19 effect.

“E-commerce will continue to grow, but with many players offering shopping platforms, there is intense competition between platforms and they need to increase their productivity,” she said.

In contrast to e-commerce, the use of digital payments in Singapore has seen sustained growth since the outbreak of Covid-19 thanks to the increased digitization of services during the pandemic.

In response to TODAY’s inquiries, the Association of Banks in Singapore (ABS) said: “In light of the Covid-19 pandemic, electronic payments that minimize physical contact are a safe and effective alternative to make and receive payments. ABS, the Monetary Association of Singapore and the government have actively encouraged the use of PayNow.”

PayNow is a secure transfer service that allows customers to receive funds to their participating bank account via NRIC/FIN, mobile number or QR code.

In 2019, 67.79 million transactions were made on PayNow. Transactions almost doubled to 124.98 million in 2020 and again to 229 million in 2021.

The number of transactions this year is also expected to surpass 2021 – in the first nine months of 2022 220 million transactions were made.

“We expect continued healthy growth in PayNow enrollment and usage, both in terms of volume and transaction values, even as we return to normal with the resumption of physical activities. For example, a record S$11 billion was settled in September 2022 alone, which is a new high in PayNow history to date,” said ABS.


People’s attitudes towards work have also changed significantly as many have been forced to adapt to working from home during the pandemic. This was something Ms. Chang, the SP student, never expected.

“Although it’s not a must for me, if my prospective employer offers hybrid work arrangements, it’s definitely a good bonus,” she said.

Such an arrangement strikes a good balance between interacting with colleagues and the convenience of working from home, she added.

Multiple surveys have revealed that teleworking is a must for many workers in Singapore.

For example, the 2022 TODAY Youth Survey, which surveyed 1,000 people between the ages of 18 and 35, found that nearly half of those surveyed would not accept a job without the ability to work remotely.

Similarly, a survey by recruitment firm Randstad conducted in February and March this year found that two in five of its 1,000 respondents – based in Singapore and aged between 18 and 65 – would not take a job unless they could work remotely or flexibly would offer .


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