When most of you saw the number of new Covid-19 cases in Singapore yesterday your jaw must have detached from your face and dropped to the floor.
You then set an alarm to wake you up on 5 May 2020 instead.
A staggering 728 new infections were reported yesterday, bringing the total number to 4,427.
But while this number might seem scary, the situation may not be as dire as we think.
Local Community Spread Has Been Stable
You see, out of the 728 new patients, 654 were work permit holders staying in dormitories and 26 were work permit holders who don’t stay in dormitories.
So, there were only 48 new cases in the community yesterday, the Health Ministry said.
In fact, Singapore’s coronavirus numbers in the local community have remained stable over the past two weeks, which is a positive sign, contrary to what the high numbers in the last week suggest.
According to The Straits Times, some experts are even optimistic that the situation should continue to improve, with circuit breaker measures in place and most people adhering to them.
So, why is there a spike in the number of infections?
The problem we have right now are weak links such as dormitories, old folks homes, and those who flout safe distancing rules.
Of the 4,427 cases here, more than 2,600 can be traced to migrant worker dormitories, reported CNA.
Believe it or not, there were just 38 cases in worker dormitories before 3 April. The number is now 2,689.
According to CNA, these workers may have passed the virus to each other while they were working at construction sites or gathered outside for social activities.
And then they brought the virus back with them when they returned to their dormitories, where some live 10 or 12 to a room and share toilets, kitchens and communal spaces.
This explains why there’s been such a high number of workers from dormitories contracting the virus.
Old folks’ homes are another weak link, as it involves a large number of people living together and interacting in close quarters.
And this group is particularly vulnerable to the disease because they’re elderly, which means even little transmission could result in many deaths, as one expert said.
16 cases, for example, have been linked to the Lee Ah Mooi Old Age Home cluster.
What You Can Do
While measures have been put in place for dormitories and for old folks’ home, there’s not much the authorities can do about errant citizens going out to have some Chendol at the hawker centre.
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Professor Josip Car, director of the Centre for Population Health Sciences at Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine (me too; I didn’t know such a centre exists), believes that these people who flout safe distancing rules are not defiant troublemakers, rather, they are simply unconvinced that the issue is serious.
This is “not necessarily a malicious intent, but rather an attitude that is more indifferent or cynical towards government, or established science,” he added.
Well, for those who don’t think this outbreak is that serious, here are some numbers for you:
2,184,784 people have contracted the coronavirus worldwide.
146,899 people have died from the disease.
Singapore had 266 cases exactly one month ago, and now we have 4,427.
The numbers will continue to rise if we don’t play our part and stay at home. Most importantly, we need to adhere to safe distancing measures when we leave our house for essential trips.
The good news is that the community spread has been stable, so if we continue to adhere to the circuit breaker rules, the numbers should go down once the virus stops spreading among workers in dormitories.
But it might take some time, and we need to be patient.