🇸🇬 Singapore slows down to contain clusters
Part 4 in a region-wide COVID-19 update
Today we take a look at Singapore, where a resurgence in community cases of COVID-19 has authorities moving quickly to arrest another wave before it can happen.
How successful it will be is something we should learn over the next week or two. We’re rooting for you, Singapore!
Just days after Malaysia went back into lockdown, Singapore followed suit. Sorta. If it’s not the same as last year’s ‘circuit breaker,’ what is it? As of Sunday night until mid-June, Singaporeans are not allowed to dine out and are barred from hanging out in groups of more than two! Singing and harmonica playing are banned (though that last one might be for the best) and restrictions have been placed on home visits.
Coconuts Singapore has the full coverage here and it’s worth clicking through to make yourself feel very bad about your own country’s vaccine roll-out.
While the new cases are lower than what we saw last year when Singapore shut it all down, unlinked cases in a handful of large institutions have public health officials worried. The Ministry of Health yesterday announced 28 new COVID-19 cases on the island, of which 21 are locally acquired and 11 are unlinked to known clusters, according to Yahoo News.
Unlike last year’s horrific numbers largely linked to expat worker dorms, which could be physically contained (although if you think about it too much it churns the stomach), cases identified in recent days have been found at Changi airport, the prison, schools, and hospitals.
Dr. David Lye, director of infectious disease research at the National Centre for Infectious Diseases (NCID), has called on Singaporeans to go above what the government has dictated. “The many [recent] cases with no linkage now suggest the spread to the community from the Changi Airport outbreak may be wide and far,” he warned in a WhatsApp message verified by Today.
The Changi cluster was identified last month after an immigration official is believed to have contracted the virus while at work. Immigration officers are routinely tested and this gentleman had been negative just the day before seeking out medical help for a wretched cough. Poor fella. I feel bad for these ~patient zeroes. He’s just trying to work and do the right thing!
The fear of a large outbreak looms for the government. Health Minister Ong Ye Kung has refused to rule out further restrictions or even a return to the ‘circuit breaker.’
“You can see the cases rising and whether the trajectory goes exponentially up or flatten – which did happen (during) Chinese New Year this year, we saw cases going up and then it flattened and then it disappeared - which direction it goes, we will only know in the coming days. So all I can say is as of now, we need to monitor the situation and then come to a decision later,” he told media, as reported by Channel News Asia.
Schools will close from tomorrow until the end of the month with authorities citing new variants which children appear to be more susceptible to. "Some of these [virus] mutations are much more virulent, and they seem to attack the younger children," Education Minister Chan Chun Sing said Monday, as reported by Reuters.
Amid all of this uncertainty and sadness, there is a spark of schadenfreude. The World Economic Forum, insistent that their Davos chat about the future of the world not be impeded by the most seismic event in decades, had planned to temporarily relocate to the sunny shores of Singapore this August. That will not be happening now.
Still, the cancellation does reinforce the point made often in the last week. If Singapore (and Taiwan) continues to struggle to contain and beat the pandemic - what hope does the world have?