In the days before COVID-19 circuit breaker measures kicked in, Kurt Ganapathy travelled across Singapore to capture an unprecedented moment in the country’s history.

If anything has defined the coronavirus crisis, it’s that the situation can change in an instant. For the first two months of Singapore’s fight against the virus, though, developments were gradual.

Flights were cancelled, borders were tightened, events were postponed and more and more of us began to work from home. As March rolled into April, however, it became clear that minor adjustments would not be enough for us to win the battle.

On March 18, we were advised to defer all travel abroad. On March 21, the country sadly recorded its first COVID-19 deaths. On March 26, cinemas, bars and entertainment venues had their last day of operations as safe-distancing measures were implemented.

So we kept our distance, we started staying home and we said “see you soon” to our friends while the sounds of planes and parties were replaced with the sound of applause from our windows.

Still, the number of new COVID-19 cases kept increasing each day, and it was soon evident that what Singapore needed was a near-complete pause. A circuit breaker.

This is a moment in time unlike anything Singapore has experienced since its independence, but take heart. Life is slowly going back to normal in China – even in Wuhan, the original epicentre of the pandemic.

When we visited Changi Airport, all the activity there centred on a flight to Shanghai. Around the world, from New Zealand to New York, the COVID-19 curve is being flattened because people are staying home.

In this moment, it’s worth remembering a speech that then-British prime minister Winston Churchill gave in 1942.

The conclusion of World War II was still more than two years away as he spoke, but Churchill recognised that the Allied victory in the Second Battle of El Alamein marked a turning point.

“Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end,” he said. “But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”

Photography: Kurt Ganapathy
Curation: Arman Shah

Check out Part 1 of our photo series on coronavirus in Singapore by clicking on the image above

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