#HealthHeroes: Fighting at the frontlines of Covid-19

By Yun Xuan Poon and Joy Lim

Dr Noel Yeo, Chief Operating Officer, IHH Healthcare Singapore shares his experiences.

Dr Noel Yeo is one of the many healthcare officials who served on the frontlines of Singapore’s battle against Covid-19. He is Chief Operating Officer of IHH Healthcare Singapore.

His organisation was first brought on for temperature screening at land and sea checkpoints in January 2020. He continued his work as a temperature screener and a medical assessor over the Chinese New Year holidays to fill in for the manpower gap.

Yeo went on to swab and treat Covid-positive patients at the Singapore Expo Community Care Facility. He also took part in swabbing missions at dormitories and nursing homes, and helped to set up swabbing centres. He currently runs vaccination centres as part of Singapore’s national vaccination strategy.

So, what’s it like serving at the frontlines of a pandemic? “Honestly, I was never prepared to work at the frontlines,” Yeo says. He was a 5th year medical student during the 2003 SARS crisis, and news of medical staff dying from the virus had “left me with an emotional scar”.

But remaining focused on the broader goal of eliminating Covid-19 has helped him change his perspective. “I tell myself that all the pressure and stress that I am experiencing now is only temporary and is worth bearing. All this time, I am driven by my desire to ensure that my loved ones and my country stay safe and protected during the pandemic,” he says.

Yeo is also an avid fan of social media, and often uses it to share important information and dispel myths. For instance, he gave daily updates following his vaccination shots and explained the test results that proved his immunity.

“If used in the right way, social media can amplify the goodness and kindness of healthcare; and encourage people to unite and stand in solidarity against Covid-19," he believes.

The public owes its safety to the brave ones who stood tall in the face of an unrelenting virus. We celebrate the courage and selflessness of the healthcare frontliners who fought on our behalf.

Illustrations by Joy Lim