1st Edition

Pandemics in Singapore, 1819–2022 Lessons for the Age of COVID-19

By Kah Seng Loh, Li Yang Hsu Copyright 2024

    Singapore has faced many pandemics over the centuries, from plague, smallpox and cholera to influenza and novel coronaviruses. By examining how different governments responded, this book considers what we can learn from their experiences. Public health strategies in the city-state were often affected by issues of ethnicity and class, as well as failure to take heed of key learnings from previous outbreaks. Pandemics are a recurrent and normal feature of the human experience. Alongside medical innovation and evidence-based policymaking, the study of history is also crucial in preparing for future pandemics.


    List of Abbreviations




    1 The Quarantine of the Trinity

    2 Plague: An Endemic Sinbad

    3 Smallpox: Racialising the Epidemic

    4 Cholera and Remaking the City

    5 The Infectious Diseases Hospital: Hanging Fire

    6 1890 Flu: Poison at the Wharves

    7 1918 Flu: Blind Spot in the Colonial System

    8 1957 Flu: The Limits of Decolonisation

    9 Swine Flu to Bird Flu: Epidemiology and Surveillance

    10 The SARS Effect

    11 COVID-19: A Culmination and a Departure of Sorts


    The Authors




    Kah Seng Loh is a historian and director of a research consultancy.

    Li Yang Hsu is an infectious diseases physician who is Vice-Dean of Global Health at Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health, National University of Singapore.