Is Sa Now Speedway? It’s a question that’s been circulating on social media platforms like TikTok and Instagram lately. The short answer is yes.
The number of confirmed cases of the new coronavirus in Singapore reached 121 on Friday, April 10. There are now 27 cases in full recovery, while the rest are still in ICU. The jump in cases is alarming, especially as the country was previously thought to have largely contained the virus. At least 79 lives have been lost due to COVID-19 in the country.
The question of whether or not to reopen the economy is now front and center, and while much debate has ensued, one thing is certain: the world will never be the same again. For weeks, we’ve been down a slippery slope, and it’s only a matter of time before it brings us to the bottom. One has to wonder how much higher the toll will be before something is done.
The Rise In Reported Cases
On March 1, 2020, Singapore was reported to have had just two cases of COVID-19. This number slowly crept up to five on March 4, before jumping to 17 on March 6. Since then, the virus has taken over the country. The first death occurred on March 8, and on April 3, the Singaporean government reported 121 cases and 27 recoveries. This is by far the largest outbreak outside of China, where the virus originated.
It’s important to note that many cases go unreported, and this is especially true for the early stages of the pandemic. The Singaporean government is now requiring that cases be reported, and many individuals are now testing voluntarily to get information on how they are contracting the virus. This is why the number of reported cases is likely to be higher than the actual figure.
The question now is, what will happen when more people get tested? In other words, how many cases can one country take? What is the asymptomatic infection rate? What is the mortality rate? These are all important questions, and one must wonder how much data the government has on hand to answer them.
Testing, Testing, Testing
Singapore has some of the most stringent testing policies in the world. Individuals who have travelled to a country with a large outbreak or come into close contact with someone who has tested positive for the coronavirus must self-quarantine for 14 days. This is known as the ‘suspecting case’ policy. Those who choose to ignore this directive risk being fined or detained. To date, Singapore has tested over 18,000 people for the virus, and the rate of testing is accelerating.
It is important to note that the vast majority of the cases are still imported from abroad, and the travel restrictions implemented by many countries have largely contained the spread of the pandemic in the country. Singapore has also enforced a ‘suspicion-less’ testing policy, which allows for anyone to be tested, regardless of whether or not they meet the criteria for a ‘suspecting case’ of the coronavirus. As a result, many people who have been exposed to the virus but have not yet shown symptoms have been getting tested, and this has led to a surge in the number of positive cases reported in the country.
Pandemic Or Not?
Many have been criticizing Singapore for not being more proactive in preventing the spread of the coronavirus. On Friday, the country’s Minister for Health, Dr. Goh Meng Seng, responded by saying, “If we look at our neighboring countries, they were more prepared. They had to change the [gross domestic product] growth forecast because of the pandemic.”
The Singaporean government does deserve some credit for being proactive during the early stages of the pandemic. The country did implement a one-week COVID-19 lockdown before most other regions. It also ensured that essential services remained operational by placing restrictions on the retail sale of many goods. These steps undoubtedly helped contain the spread of the virus in the country.
Now that the pandemic is here, the question is, was it worth it? Was the sacrifice of a few weeks worth the benefits the country gained? These are difficult questions to answer given the scale of the economic and social upheaval that has ensued as a result of COVID-19. The numbers are certainly concerning. For instance, Singapore now has the second-highest number of cases (121) and deaths (27) related to COVID-19 in the world. To put this in perspective, only China (with 594 cases and 29 deaths) has had a bigger impact. In terms of cases, this is largely attributable to more people being tested, and in terms of deaths, it’s because more individuals have become infected. This is undoubtedly a huge loss of life, especially since many people are still suffering from the economic and social effects of the pandemic. One must also wonder what will happen in the coming months as the numbers continue to rise.
The Fallout From Reopening
Since the reopening of the economy, Singapore has been experiencing a flood of new cases and recoveries. This number is certainly alarming, but one must understand the context. Up until very recently, the number of cases in Singapore was in single digits. It’s only been in the last month or so that the outbreaks have become significant. Many individuals are now realizing that they were never truly isolated, as the virus has always been present in the country. As a result, many are becoming more susceptible to the disease, and this is leading to more cases.
The situation is dire, but perhaps not as bad as it seems. For one, many cases are still relatively mild. While the mortality rate is high (around 2.5%), this is largely due to the fact that many individuals who contract COVID-19 are already in poor health. In other words, many are now at risk of dying from traditional illnesses as well as the coronavirus. This is one of the many reasons why social distancing and lockdown measures are still important.
Another factor to consider is the rate of testing in the country. While there are many cases of COVID-19 in Singapore, there are comparatively few laboratory-confirmed cases. This is largely because the government and healthcare system are doing an excellent job in getting the word out about the outbreak and encouraging everyone to get tested. The result is that while the number of cases and deaths are concerning, it’s still a relatively small number in comparison to other countries.
Given everything that’s transpired since the start of the pandemic, many are now asking whether or not to reopen the economy. While maintaining some level of social distancing remains necessary, it’s not clear what the best course of action is. The one thing that’s clear is that the world will never be the same again, and this, in itself, will remain the legacy of this pandemic.