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05 Sep 2021  (521 Views) 
Covid-19 crisis

How to read the daily report on new cases provided by MOH
I want to explain how I read and understand the figures given in the daily report from Ministry of Health (MOH) on the new covid infections.

Here is the report for 3 September 2021.

There were 219 cases broken down into:

Imported - 3
Local transmission
 - detected through quarantine 56
- detected through surveillance 51
- unlinked 109

I expect that the imported cases and local transmissions detected through quarantine and surveillance to be mostly mild. These people were detected through testing and did not have any symptoms of illness from covid.

The 109 unlinked cases are likely to be more serious, not because they are "unlinked" but they are people who have some symptoms and turn up at the clinics. 

A small number of the daily cases may be severe, if the are from the unvaccinated elderly or those in poor health. On 3 September, only 2 were classified as severe.

Those that are symptomatic are likely to be admitted into hospital, and those who are mild may be placed in the community care facilities. 

580 cases were warded in hospital from the cases reported on 3 September and earlier. They are described as "mostly mild and under observation".

I monitor the cases that move from "mostly mild" to "severe", i.e. those that require oxygen and ICU care. this number remains quite low. On some days, the number increased by 5 cases, but on other days, it drops by 5 cases. A small number died on some days.

I am not able to see the figures that show the number of patients that are discharged from hospital on each day (i.e. they are "cured") or move from ICU to normal wards. Perhaps they are provided, but I could not find them.

It would be useful for the MOH to show the number of cases being admitted to hospital each day and being discharged, and the average length of stay.

Based on the figures that I can see, I conclude that most of the hospitalization cases are "cured" within a few days, and that a small proportion becomes severe and need oxygen or ICU care.

My general conclusion is that, apart from the few cases of unvaccinated elderly and poor health, the majority of the cases are "cured" after a brief period of stay in hospital.

The paranoia that is displayed by the general public is exaggerated. 

It would be helpful if MOH gives a better explanation of the figures to allay the paranoia.

I now deal with the imported cases. 3 cases were while in quarantine, isolation and stay home notice. I am not clear about the difference between these categories, and I suspect that this differentiation is unnecessary. I will refer to them as "quarantine".

MOH did not show the number of arrivals that were placed on quarantine for 14 days or so. There were 18,000 arrivals in July. This means that the daily average is 600. They contributed to 3 cases (mostly mild) compared to over 200 of locally transmitted cases. 

I understand that this quarantine will be removed. I believe that this is safe and appropriate. 

I hope that this analysis is useful to you, and that it will explain why I am not worried about the new cases that are being reported each day.

I wish to make a final point. 

A lot of effort is being spent in safe entry recording and enforcement and contact tracing to identify the people to be place through quarantine and surveillance. They contribute to about half of the cases reported on 3 September. Most of these cases are mild. 

The other half of the cases are considered as "unlinked". They are people who were infected and felt unwell to see a doctor. These cases are more severe.

My conclusion is that the effort spent on safe entry and contact tracing is costly and not useful. I have held this view for several months.

Tan Kin Lian


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