The big news over the weekend was this headline from the Straight Times:
“Coronavirus: Most workplaces to close, schools will move to full home-based learning from next week, says PM Lee”
Except for key economic sectors and essential services, all other work premises will close.
If Singapore can’t do this stay open and keep COVID-19 from spreading then it is unlikely any country can. This means we must think longer term on the scale of at least a year and more likely two years.
Why do I say this?
Singapore, has arguably one of the best public health systems in the world along with a world class medical system. It had a lot of SARS cases and really learned from that outbreak and then developed strong systems to deal with this new novel coronavirus. They have a very public system of tracking COVID-19 cases.
There seemed to be hope that we, those in the United States and other Western Countries, could maybe “become like them” get the situation under control and in the process figure out how to do contact tracing the way they had with a widely used app but with better privacy preserving features.
Articles were written just over a month ago with glowing reports of how they were able to stay open by in part having “social distancing down to a science”
They knew what they were doing….
Amid this sharing of advice, it is often Singapore that is held up as an example to replicate. Despite the country grappling with a rising load of Covid-19 patients, most of whom have recently returned to the city state from abroad, its health care system has continued to run smoothly. Doctors say this is because it has been preparing for a pandemic ever since SARS caught it by surprise. During the SARS outbreak, health care workers accounted for 41 per cent of Singapore’s 238 infections.– Nikkei Asian Review
Hospitals regularly war-game scenarios such as pandemics or terrorist attacks and the simulations are sometimes observed by the Ministry of Health, which grades the performance and recommends areas for improvement.
The plan also covers the need to stockpile equipment to avoid the sort of shortages many countries are now facing, another lesson inspired by SARS when masks, gloves and gowns were in short supply.
In a pandemic preparation paper published in 2008, Singapore public health specialist Jeffery Cutter wrote that Singapore’s stockpile was sufficient to cover at least 5 to 6 months’ use by all front-line health care workers.– South China Morning Post
So what pushed Singapore over the edge to close down?
More then 1/2 of all new cases could not be traced back to any source – you can see this here in the public tracing list/flowchart.
So in order to preserve the integrity of the healthcare system and society Singapore shut down for the next month.
We are far behind Singapore in how much we have been able to do to keep case counts low. It seems with that if even they can’t manage the case counts that we will be shut down for a very long time.