Has Case 152 rang the alarm bell on COVID-19 medical tourists coming to Singapore?

I read with alarm the news on Case 152 involving a 65-year-old Indonesian man who was tested positive on March 8, a day after arriving in Singapore and less than a week after he attempted to get treatment at a Jakarta hospital for COVID-19-like symptoms on March 2. This is because this case may herald the arrival in Singapore of COVID-19 patients from our region if not worldwide, who are attracted by Singapore’s enviable COVID-19 treatment record to date with no deaths yet, and by her healthcare infrastructure of high standard and quality. I am of the view that such a development would be dangerous to Singapore’s COVID-19 defence.

The issue is not about foreigners wanting to be treated for COVID-19 in Singapore for free. In fact, there would be no shortage of foreigners who can afford and prefer, to seek treatment for COVID-19 in Singapore as we have already witnessed the overloading, if not collapse, of a number of countries’ healthcare system due to the sudden spike in confirmed cases in their countries such that having access to medical treatment can no longer be taken for granted even for those who are not poor.

If Singapore should face an onslaught of medical tourists seeking COVID-19 treatment here, then at certain point it may result in locals having to compete with foreigners for isolation wards and life support machines, which are in limited supply in Singapore. If such competition should occur, then it may not be limited to the public hospitals but may occur in private hospitals which have even less isolation and ICU rooms as compared with public hospitals. Therefore, the impact of such competition may well be felt by the entire spectrum of Singapore society, especially if community transmissions become more common in Singapore.

Accordingly, it is important for the Government to develop a fair, transparent policy to address the issue before plane loads of medical tourists starting to arrive on our shore seeking COVID-19 treatment, especially given the exponential growth rate of confirmed cases once community transmission outbreaks occur. I appreciate that it would be a tough decision for the Government to make given the many other related issues to be resolved to make the implementation of any resulting policy practical, efficient. But now is the time for politicians and bureaucrats to exercise foresight to urgently address the issue in a thoughtful, comprehensive manner to avoid any chaos from happening given that the epidemic, if not pandemic, is likely to persist for at least the rest of 2020 such that the number of confirmed cases would likely to continue to increase for quite some time in the foreseeable future.

Being a magnet to medical tourists seeking COVID-19 treatment may also deter healthy travellers from coming to Singapore given the risk of being infected by such medical tourists while travelling on the same plane. If coming back to Singapore may be a health hazard, then it may well be a triple whammy for locals who need to make necessary trips overseas in terms of first the risk of infection whilst overseas, second the exposure to infection whilst on the plane coming back due to the possible prevalence of COVID-19 medical tourists, and third the risk of not being able to obtain COVID-19 treatment, if necessary, upon their return to Singapore due to local healthcare resources having been consumed by such medical tourists.

Obviously, it would take more than a simplistic policy of denying COVID-19 medical tourists entry to Singapore or even punishing them for making such a trip to Singapore, as such a policy would simply encourage such medical tourists to take evasive measures such as taking relevant medication to suppress the symptoms of COVID-19 for the duration of the journey to Singapore.

One possible measure may be for the Government to accredit suitable healthcare institutions to conduct rapid diagnosis of COVID-19, which would meet the standard of reliability acceptable to the Government, at all overseas airports which have flights to Singapore, so that foreigners who would be transiting via or travelling to, Singapore must obtain a certificate of clearance before boarding their flight to Singapore.

Such a measure can also offer economic opportunities to healthcare companies in Singapore thereby turning crisis into opportunity to further develop the reputation and scale of the Singapore healthcare sector across the world. Indeed, one would expect Singapore-developed innovations in rapid diagnostic testing of COVID-19 to achieve much lower unit cost once economy of scale is achieved through the de facto export of our relevant products, thereby eventually benefiting Singapore society through a reduction in government subsidy on COVID-19 tests.

By foreclosing a major potential source of inbound infection risk, Singapore will not only be a safer place in the face of the likely forthcoming COVID-19 pandemic, but will give foreigners who need to make necessary trips to or to transit through, Singapore greater confidence in the safety of doing so, thereby helping Singapore to maintain its status as an international travel, leisure, business and financial hub in the midst of this enormous challenge of our time.

 

Beacon

 

 

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9 Responses to “Has Case 152 rang the alarm bell on COVID-19 medical tourists coming to Singapore?”

  • Population 10million:

    In the name of GDP I think we Singaporeans just say Boh Bian lor.

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  • Straight "As" Marlboro Tan:

    System based on Believing:Such a measure can also offer economic opportunities to healthcare companies in Singapore thereby turning crisis into opportunity to further develop the reputation and scale of the Singapore healthcare sector across the world

    Our own scholar are useless in every way possible. Collecting high salary. ANd not doing anything in terms of research, innovation but instead live off the taxes of the lower classes in society. DO u think they will step up to the game? the mentality is so ingrained in them over decades is it even possible to change them?

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  • Don't be fooled:

    Don’t believe what you read about imported cases. Now they trying to s*ake away with similar Joteo type statistic to escape from blame by making imported cases more than local cases. So obvious. Bring a few case here to justify it and invite their IBs to pronounce it for you so as to attempt to fool locals that the transmission is less and nothing to worry.

    KNN, don’t believe them.

    Regardless, they must shoulder all the responsibility and blames, imported and locals, both.

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  • Educating Singaporeans:

    Let me educate you, Singaporeans.
    Because our founding father LKY foresight of paying millions to Ministers, MPs and civil servants, PAP Singapore is in good hand.

    Look at the West and America now.
    Because of paying their Ministers and MPs low salary, they get poor quality leadership at the top.

    You pay high price you get quality Apple iphone. You cheapo want to pay low price you get PRC virus infected Hiphone.

    收太少錢 不願為港人賣命 (Salary too little, Not Worth Scarificing)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vvZ5C1WrH0E&t=5s

    US Hospitals to prioritize who gets care
    https://www.npr.org/2020/03/21/819645036/u-s-hospitals-prepare-guidelines-for-who-gets-care-amid-coronavirus-surge?t=1585055860757

    UK doctors to decide who they’ll save
    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/mar/14/coronavirus-outbreak-older-people-doctors-treatment-ethics

    PAP.GUARANTEED.WIN.GE2020
    Vote PAP, Vote for 9% GST to give PAP 9 months bonus.
    PAP Huat, Huat, Huat arh

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  • Small Space Isn't Safe:

    Either the virus is very smart to evade the screening test, or they gave clearance for the individual to enter the country on compassionate ground. The chances of the care-givers being infected are high, and so it is not just the case person who will be importing the virus into the country. This is not another of your normal days to allow medical tourists into the country, not especially during a pandemic.

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  • give sgs a break lah:

    hopeless gov ppl. such a tiny snort of a country SG they still cant tackle the virus efficiently..still letting in foreigners with a 1001 conditions…some even openly ill with the virus.
    what a mess it is now.

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  • SK 1Up SG:

    give sgs a break lah:
    hopeless gov ppl. such a tiny snort of a country SG they still cant tackle the virus efficiently..still letting in foreigners with a 1001 conditions…some even openly ill with the virus.
    what a mess it is now.

    SK govt salaries are peanuts compared to SG govt yet they are more IMPRESSIVE :
    https://youtu.be/eajDIxHWj_k
    https://youtu.be/PHV4ukogdE0
    https://youtu.be/R93Jxspg4w8

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  • Note to Ah Huat Pappy:

    PAPHuatAh…. because LKY flushed out his founding father colleagues in the 80s, now we have parliamentarian-CEOs taking secret salaries undisclosable to the citizens of Singapore….and we don’t know either how our CPF reserves have been disfigured and tweaked into nothing-for-retirement. And now we have to put up with SiGuiKia clowns like yourself.

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  • stealing is like taking drugs:

    Note to Ah Huat Pappy:
    PAPHuatAh…. because LKY flushed out his founding father colleagues in the 80s, now we have parliamentarian-CEOs taking secret salaries undisclosable to the citizens of Singapore….and we don’t know either how our CPF reserves have been disfigured and tweaked into nothing-for-retirement. And now we have to put up with SiGuiKia clowns like yourself.

    ask pap clown how much he is paying his wife via sheep owned temasick and the pap clown shall go ballistic to avoid answering the simple question.

    in other words, pap clown has elak answering a simple question.

    and going ballistic instead of answering a simple question is a defence mechanism of the guilty as hell. that is why die die an INDIAN is selected to be the malay one in istana.

    stealing is like taking drugs. cannot stop until up the lorry.

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