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Covid-19 in Singapore—are we winning the battle?

The Independent logo The Independent 4/8/2020 Anna Maria Romero
a close up of a flower © The Independent Singapore

Singapore—While Covid-19 infections around the globe continue to rise and some Asian countries are battling a new wave of cases, the number of coronavirus cases in Singapore has gone down considerably since April. On April 20 the number of cases had reached a daily high of 1,426.

As Indonesia and the Philippines struggle against soaring coronavirus cases, and Japan, Hong Kong, Australia, and even Vietnam are fighting second or even third waves of infections, Singapore has kept on a steady course toward going back to normal, giving rise to speculation that the country could be winning the battle against Covid-19.

The Ministry of Health (MOH) reported on August 3 that one Covid-19 patient is currently undergoing medical treatment in a hospital’s intensive care unit, the first time a person positive for the coronavirus has needed intensive care in over two weeks. The last time a Covid-19 patient was in the ICU was on July 13.

The vast majority of Singapore’s cases were found among migrant workers living in dormitories, and the government has been conducting mass testing of the workers and isolated those who were infected, most of whom were young and relatively healthy, and showed mild symptoms if any.

Because of strict circuit breaker restrictions, the number of new cases decreased to less than 200 cases daily between July 2 and 12, before slightly going up to a daily count of new cases between 200 and 400 afterward.

These cases are still mostly among migrant workers in dormitories, although an uptick in imported cases was also observed after June 19, when more long-term pass holders were allowed to enter the country at the beginning of Phase 2 of the Circuit Breaker restrictions.

But the number of symptomatic coronavirus patients has been much fewer than earlier this year, with less than 200 patients needing medical treatment in hospitals and the majority isolated and cared for at community facilities. Singapore has also had one of the lowest death tolls from Covid-19 in the world, with only 27 people dying of the infection since the pandemic began.

Of the country’s total case count of 53,051, 47,179 have fully recovered and 5,845, or 11 percent, are still considered active cases. As of Monday, August 3, only 115 confirmed cases were still in hospital, and one is in critical condition in the ICU. The rest are in community facilities.

Of the 226 new cases that were reported on August 3, nine were imported cases of returnees from India, Japan and the Philippines, who were tested during their 14-day Stay-Home Notices (SHN) required of each traveller to Singapore.

MOH also reported one community case, a 26-year-old Sri Lankan man in Singapore on a short-term visit pass who had been admitted to the Changi Prison Complex on July 30. He tested positive for the coronavirus upon admission, as testing is now part of the procedure for screening new inmates.

The inmate, who is asymptomatic for the infection, had tested negative on earlier tests. According to MOH he remains separated from the rest of the inmates at Changi Prison Complex and is unlinked to any other coronavirus cases in the country. —/TISG

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