Singapore might be doing well in the fight against COVID-19, but if there’s anything to learn from the sudden suspension of the HK-SG Air Travel Bubble, it’s that we shouldn’t get complacent.
Today (22 Nov), as of 12pm, the Ministry of Health (MOH) has preliminarily confirmed 12 new cases of COVID-19 infection.
Once again, they’re all imported.
This brings the total number of cases in Singapore to 58,160. This is also the 12th day whereby there is no locally transmitted infection.
Based on yesterday’s number, the number of new cases in the community has remained extremely low, with no new cases in the past week.
HK-SG Air Bubble Travel Deferred for 2 Weeks
If you’re one of the many Singaporeans who purchased tickets to Hong Kong the moment the air travel bubble between the two countries was announced, you’ve probably heard the tragic news.
If you’ve not, I’d urge you to grab that huge chicken nugget pillow you purchased recently as well as a box of tissues.
On Saturday morning, the gahmen announced that the SG-HK air travel bubble (ATB) would begin on 22 Nov as planned, despite the alarming rise in Covid-19 cases in Hong Kong.
But just hours later, they said the ATB will be postponed by two weeks.
Even though you were due to fly off the next day, you, of course, understood the need to take precautions, and didn’t shed a single tear.
In reality, you cried for hours and cursed at the coronavirus, but this may have been a sensible move by the authorities, given how many cases Hong Kong reported on the same day.
A Sensible Move
Before Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung announced the tragic news in a Facebook post, there were already a few worrying signs of an escalating outbreak in Hong Kong.
Over a week ago, on Friday (13 November), the city reported six new infections, four of which were locally transmitted cases.
This may not seem like a concerning number, but because two of them were unlinked, experts worried the number would continue to rise.
And it did.
26 new Covid-19 cases were reported on Friday (20 Nov), of which 21 were locally transmitted.
And of those 21, 9 were untraceable.
Previously, both countries agreed that if the number of unlinked local infections exceeded five in either city on a rolling seven-day average, the ATB would be suspended for two weeks.
On Saturday (21 Nov), Hong Kong recorded 43 new infections, 36 of which were locally transmitted. 13 were untraceable.
This brings the average number of unlinked local infections to 3.86 for the past week.
While the mark of five per day has not been reached yet, the authorities expect things to get worse.
As Dr Chuang Shuk-kwan from the Centre for Health Protection said: the pandemic is now “coming in full fury”, in what many see as the fourth wave of the outbreak in Hong Kong.
If there are more than 22 unlinked cases in Hong Kong over the next three days, the threshold of five will be exceeded.
The move may be bad news to the tourism sector of both countries, but given the need to prioritise public health, it’s clearly the right one.
Featured Image: Rajaraman Arumugam / Shutterstock.com (Image is for illustration purpose only)