But this was a stubborn task force being led by a stubborn government

By April 22, 2020Current
via FB

TL;DR – If you don’t test people, you won’t have any cases. 

It was just last Thursday when we saw a (then) new high of 728 for number of new cases in a day. People were shocked, and we wrote an article to appeal for calm and reason. In the article, we’d said,

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. 

We also spoke about how we should not focus on just the number of new cases every day. There are two other numbers that matter a lot more and are clearer indicators of whether we’re doing OK and whether our healthcare system is being overwhelmed. These are:

  • Number of deaths
  • Number in intensive care

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

Today, “728” no longer startles.

We’ve since crossed over to the stage where we’re seeing daily new cases in four digits. It’s 1,111 new cases yesterday (Tue), 28 Singaporeans and PRs from the local community stream of infection, we had 27 in ICU and 11 deaths as at Tuesday 12nn.

What about today?

Well, it’s 1,016 new cases today (Wed), 15 Singaporeans/PRs from the local community stream of infection, and 25 in ICU and 12 deaths. This means that we’ve surpassed the 10,000-mark in terms of confirmed cases. To be exact, we’ve now seen 10,141 cases.

I’m sorry to learn of the 12th death today, a 84yo Singaporean woman. Fatality remains highest amongst the seniors, so the best is to prevent them from catching the virus altogether. So people, encourage your parents and grandparents to stay home.

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There’s some good news in terms of the local community spread. MOH said that the number of new cases in the community has decreased, from an average of 36 cases per day in the week before, to an average of 25 per day in the past week.

We’re likely to see more numbers from the foreign workers stream in the days to come. Be mentally prepared to see huge numbers from this stream. Like what my fave online personality of the moment said,

True, the numbers are large, and we wish they were not as large. But we better test and know, rather than to pretend it’s zero. So the large numbers come from extensive testing.

A plus in their favour is that most are young healthy people. For the older ones, above 50, I believe the healthcare authorities know extra care should be taken bcos of the higher risk of complications.

So watch the ICU and fatality numbers if you’re one of those who anxiously wait for the numbers everyday. These are the real tell-tale signs if we’re doing OK and if our healthcare system is being overwhelmed. Anyway, here’s my message for today:

Be mentally prepared for high numbers from the foreign worker clusters for a couple of weeks more. And it’s all because we have a very stubborn government!

Yeps, check out this super viral commentary on Facebook about how Singapore has an extremely stubborn government.

The original post has been shared over 600 times, and the repost on the Singapore Matters Facebook page has seen over 5,000 shares!

Here’s the post in full.

Super long post. Even by my standards. A commentary on an extremely stubborn government.

I try not to make too many comments on the Covid-19 numbers, simply because I’m not an expert. It is going to be hard for me to understand or provide a perspective on the current numbers with their intricacies.

But I have a good memory. I don’t forget things easily. Not too long ago, when some countries in Asean had yet to have a single reported case of Covid-19, we already had double-digit numbers. At one point of time we had the most cases outside of China and Japan.


Beyond the obvious issues of high population density per sq km and being a tradehub, we had one important factor.

A stubborn government.

A government that refused to take the easy way out. If you don’t test people, you won’t have any cases. If you pick and choose who you want to test you will achieve a high negative/testing ratio.

But this was a stubborn task force being led by a stubborn government. Everyone with the slightest risk was being contact traced and that’s how we managed to ring fence our cases and get international plaudits.

But when the first wave ended, our cases rose again. Why?

Same reason. Absolutely stubborn government.

Where countries around the world were making a very popular judgement call to restrict arrival of high infection – risk citizens, this government and its agencies were moving mountains in making avenues to bring back our citizens and residents. They were exhausting every single channel to bring back our people. The sheer audacity.

As a result our imported cases rose exponentially again. But the stubborn government methodologically isolated every single arrival and ring-fenced them. Now? Imported cases are at 0.

They could have been happy. Everyone could have been happy. But what did this stubborn government decide to do? The moment they realised that the Foreign Worker clusters were forming, they decided to do the unthinkable. Isolate entire dormitories and test everyone and anyone at risk.

“You get a test. He gets a test. Everyone gets a test.” well not quite. But the people at the front line doing the testing are the best in the world.

The government could have washed its hand off the Foreign Workers or withheld testing unless they exhibited severe symptoms. This is what many countries are doing, even for their own people.

But what does our stubborn government do?

It tests even people without any symptoms if they have a high risk factor. And as a result we have reached 8000+ cases now.

But we only have 22 in ICU.
Unfortunately 11 deaths have been recorded, but it means our mortality rate is at 0.137%.

I’m not downplaying it. Because this is serious. The 2899 hospitalised are stretching our hospital resources and kudos to the healthcare staff and every single essential worker.

But I just want to remind you that we have a stubborn government. A government that insists on doing the right thing regardless of what happens to its popularity. A government that insists on weighing the pros and cons and making the best possible decision based on given data, instead of relying on individual whims and fancies.

At this point, all you have to do is trust this stubborn government, play your part and do the right thing. The only negative we want to see now is on the test kit. That too a double negative. Everywhere else, keep positive!


Liaison Officer for foreign worker dormitories S11 shares the other side of the story amid criticism


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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.

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