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20 May 2021  (638 Views) 
Covid-19 crisis

Why does the virus caused so many deaths in India but not in Singapore
The covid virus has caused a staggering number of infections and deaths in India during the past month. The health system has broken down. The virus has got out of control.

The same strain of the virus has also caused much harm in Thailand and Malaysia. 

The situation in Singapore appears to be under control. Should we give credit to the government for their management of the virus? Is the spread of the virus better contained in Singapore due to safe entry recording, contact tracing, safe distancing and circuit breaker?

The disease experts themselves do not know the answer. Most of the experts, including those working in the World Health Organization, advised on the measures that are already followed by Singapore. 

I am not a disease expert, but I read the views of the experts and other observers that are posted online. More importantly, I apply my logic, analysis and common sense. 

I wish to share my observations.

a) The safe entry recording and contact tracing adopted in Singapore requires tremendous resources. In my view, it does not produce useful results. It is largely a waste of resources. So far, there were no report on how the safe entry recording data has been applied usefully. 

b) We can do contact tracing by asking the infected people who they were in contact with. There is no need to collect the safe entry data.

c) The safe distancing and circuit breaker measures appear to slow down the spread of the virus, but this is not the critical issue. Malaysia has implemented its safe distancing measure (named as the Movement Control Order) but it did not stop the severe infections and deaths.

I believe that the key difference is - Singapore was able to detect and respond quickly at an early stage to the infection.

Most of the other countries were not able to detect and treat the virus promptly.

An early response and treatment of the virus prevent it from developing from a mild stage to a severe stage. When the virus reach a severe stage (described by the expert as a strong virus load), the infected person becomes symptomatic and the virus can spread actively. These are described as the "super spreaders".

I am still against the safe entry recording, contact tracing (using the safe entry data) and the circuit breaker measures that are aimed at slowing down the spread of the virus. 

These measures have created a lot of harm to the economy, to the failure of business and the loss of livelihood of several hundred thousand people. It has also the spending of over $100 billion of the reserves spent by the government to provide financial assistance to the impacted people.

However, I support the measures that detect the early stage of the infection and treat these people to prevent the virus from reaching a serious level.

I suggest that our current strategy by changed as follows:

a) Allow people who feel unwell and have some of the symptoms of covid to be tested for free. If they have to be quarantined or treated, they should get an allowance to offset the loss of income. Testing and treatment of covid should be free for the infected people.

b) Stop the safe entry measures at retail outlets and workplaces. They are useless and not followed anyway.

c) Provide self service temperature taking kiosks at many public places. This allows the people to take their temperature daily and be alerted if they have a fever. 

Singapore has a low infection and death rate because we were able to detect the virus at an early stage and treat it before it becomes severe. 

We spent a lot of effort and resources in several measures to reach this outcome. However, a large part of the measures were ineffective. A small part was effective.

We can adapt our strategy to focus on the effective part - i.e. detection and treatment of the infected people. We should discontinue the restrictive measures that lock down a large part of the economy to stop the spread of mild cases. 

Tan Kin Lian

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