“728” should not be the only number you look at. We will be OK and here’s why and how.

By April 17, 2020Current

TL;DR – For the foreign workers, let’s test aggressively to identify the infected cases and let’s treat them and take care of them until they are well again.

The number of new cases broke a new record again tonight (16 April, Thursday). Our current new high is 728 and yes, this means that we’ve crossed the 4,000-mark in terms of total confirmed cases tonight.

Ex-NMP Calvin Cheng highlighted an important point from tonight. He said, the number of cases can suddenly go up or down, depending on how aggressively we are testing people.

He’s right. The number of foreign workers’ infection is a result of us testing aggressively. The more you test, the more cases you’re gonna identify, that’s pure logic.

So don’t be misled by low numbers in some countries, it could be a result of them not testing enough people. Read this very useful piece for better understanding.

He also flagged two numbers that we should look at, and that we’re actually doing OK.

Number of deaths : 10. Unchanged. Majority over 70. Several over 80 years of age.

Number in ICU: 23. Down from 26. 3 discharged from ICU. Including a Bangladeshi worker who was on the verge of death.

Here’s what I think.

We should be looking at three streams of infection. One, the stream of imported cases. Two, the stream of local (community) cases. Three, the foreign worker clusters. Each stream has its own characteristics and needs to be treated differently.

For the first stream of imported cases, we have good news as we have not seen new imported case since 9 April. We’re unlikely to see new imported cases since there are no arrivals for short-term visitors and those with the valid paperwork to enter Singapore are made to serve Stay Home Notice for 14 days.

For the second stream of local (community) cases, we’re still seeing new cases everyday, there are 48 today, lower than the past few days. The average per day has fallen from 38 the week before to 37 the past week. We’re now in  Day 10 of our 28-day circuit breaker (CB) period, these could be pre-CB infection. But we cannot really tell for sure since there’re so many unlinked cases. I think we can only see the true effect of this circuit breaker in the later part of next week or even the week after next.

And for this stream of infection, we really need everyone to cooperate and stay home. And if you absolutely have to go out, please mask up.

I hope this Facebook post jolts you out of the illusion that it’s still safe out there and “No lah, I won’t get COVID-19 one….”



Now for the third stream of foreign worker clusters.

MOM and the inter-agency task force (IATF) have only started making arrangements to segregate them from mid or late last week. We’re talking about close to 300,000 foreign workers here and it’s a logistics nightmare to have to rehouse even a portion of them. On top of rehousing, there are also other details like arranging for meals, masks and other essential items for them.

There have been very frequent updates from MOM and also from the Manpower Minister Mrs Josephine Teo herself. Personally, I really  appreciate the transparency and the regular sharing.

In fact, just today, Minister Teo had shared MOM’s strategy to manage and to contain the spread. I highly encourage everyone to read her post in full so that you have a better understanding of how the government is planning to tackle this.

I’ve read it and I like to believe we’re in good hands.

But we will need some time for these measures to see full effect, so do be patient and give them some space to work things out.

And we will also need a heart of steel every night for now as we can expect the number of infected cases to continue to be high for at least a week more. Don’t forget, they’re doing aggressive testing on the foreign workers now, so we will see high numbers.

But what’s important to note, like what Calvin Cheng had said, is to check the number of ICU cases. If this number continues to be low, we can assume that these new cases are not so severe or fatal. In time, they will be cured.

Minister Teo had said this in her Facebook post,

Our foreign workers has contributed to the building of our country and economy. In these difficult times, we have a responsibility toward them and we will do everything we can to take care of them.

And when resharing Minister Teo’s post, our Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong had also said this,

Foreign workers have helped us to build HDB towns, MRT lines, airports and ports. Some man midnight shifts in our factories. Others take care of our sick and elderly in hospitals and nursing homes. Hundreds of thousands of Singapore households depend on domestic workers from neighbouring countries.

We are grateful for their contributions, and for their understanding and cooperation as we tackle COVID-19. We will work with them, especially those living in the dorms, to see through this difficult period.

Indeed, let’s test aggressively to identify foreign workers who have been infected and let’s treat them and take care of them until they are well again.

In the meantime, everybody, please stay home and stay safe. And for those of you out and about, mask up and don’t go slapping, punching or beating up essential workers, safe distancing ambassadors and also enforcement officers. They’re just out there to do their job.

#SGUnited #stayhomeforSG


(Featured image via FB)


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Gabrielle Teo

Author Gabrielle Teo

I read lots, and I also spend an indecent amount of time trying to get my mostly unpopular opinions published. Oh, I argue a lot with fellow Singaporeans who complain incessantly about Singapore too.

More posts by Gabrielle Teo

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