Three key problems with Singapore’s current COVID-19 strategy

There are 3 key problems with Singapore’s current COVID-19 strategy (and I am saying this as someone who was praising Singapore’s initial response):

1) A few days ago, targeted shutdowns at entertainment spots seem like a smart strategy to contain the virus. But the targeted shutdowns are reactive, not proactive. If they had been done earlier, it could have helped stopped the spread. But doing it at the current stage where there are 20 or so cases of local community transmission on average everyday means they are not effective enough to deal with the community spread.

A non-essential stop-movement order for 14 days is necessary to break the chain of transmission in the community. In terms of getting essential supplies, one way is to allocate staggered timings to local communities/blocks of flats for purchases at supermarkets, so that contact between different batches of people is limited. Better still, supermarkets should implement a nationwide online delivery system, and coordinate with existing delivery drivers to do so. Singapore is small enough to implement such a nationwide online program. The decision makers need to develop the IT system for this.

In addition, more subsidies need to be provided for job retention and wage protection. The 25% wage subsidies need to be increased. Denmark is doing 75%. Grants for unemployed workers need to be increased. The S$800 is not sufficient. A figure closer to S$2,000 is needed to ensure basic living can be met.

(2) The irrational school suspension/non-shutdown system: currently, schools are only suspended for a day for disinfection when infected confirmed COVID-19 cases are found. And students are now being put on a once a week online learning at home. But social distancing works as a strategy when it limits transmission via ensuring people do not congregate within 1 or 2 meters of one another on a prolonged basis or by implementing a 14-day non-contact to break the transmission, which means the current strategy adopted by MOE does not make sense because the 1-day suspension and 1-day online learning break does not sync with disease progression. Both strategies are meaningless in the fight against COVID-19.

Shut down schools for 14 days. Shorten the June semester break to compensate for the shutdown. Provide parents with special leave during this period to take care of children. Later on, implement guidelines for school shutdowns for 14 days in the event of confirmed cases. There is still the November and December semester breaks that can be cut short for this. Basically, look at what Taiwan did and is doing. Also, Singapore’s curriculum is overloaded. Cut off non-essential curriculum so that student load can be reduced this year.

(3) Singapore’s approach is a top down one, where people are waiting to be told what to do. Decision making is centralized where people are not informed enough, so that they can be empowered to take proactive action. They are told not to gather, not to panic buy, but there is simply not enough information on why decisions like these are being made from the top. Are the escalating cases going to overwhelm the system in 5, 10, 20 days? Such communication needs to happen. It cannot be a constant reassurance without giving people facts, when people are looking at the data and making their own calculations and conjectures, many times sensible ones. And this is causing panic when people know what they can see from the data but not hearing from the decision makers, and not seeing the more aggressive actions that need to be done to slowdown the spread of the virus.

As of yesterday, Singapore has 732 cases, of which 182 are recovered and 432 are still in hospital. Singapore has 330 negative pressure isolation beds which can be increased to 500. Plans are being made to move people with mild symptoms to converted quarantine facilities so as not to overload the isolation wards. As of yesterday, 17 patients are considered critical.

Singapore is seeing a steady rise in COVID-19 cases, and there is still a chance to break the chain of transmission, by instituting a social distancing measure that keeps people apart for 14 days except for essential activity. For what it’s worth, if the PAP wants to hold the election and win, take aggressive action to cut the transmission so that they can hold whatever election they want to win.

 

 

Roy Ngerng

 

 

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16 Responses to “Three key problems with Singapore’s current COVID-19 strategy”

  • REGIME CHANGE is the solution:

    Straits Times: Coronavirus could take years to run its course, world must brace itself: PM Lee

    PM “soft-selling” early GE. Opposition parties should coordinate and avoid 3-corner fights or they will all lose.

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  • Spurm:

    Yes, Roy is right.

    Singaporeans are like very supportive of govt but heavily dependent on govt instructions.

    Its a very un innovative society, heavily dependent on govt help. That’s why they support the govt so much.

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  • Wu Chee bo?:

    CNN just provided fake news! Zakaria said many people have told him they want pinkly to stay on!

    This Zakaria conducted a poll of which we do not know! He means the grasslooters want him to stay!

    and the beholders!

    We rather kick him out……can’t solve the wuhan virus………..easy does it……..lockdown for 2 weeks……there won’t be transmission……..returnees all go to tekong camp problem solved………more classy go to sentosa resort……….kick ou5 all residents there …….there you have it……wu Chee Bo?

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  • Fence Sitter:

    The writer’s solutions are illogical and lack foresight. If we impose 14-day shutdown on non-essential movement and schools, what if it doesn’t work? Malaysia tried it and has to extend for another 14 days. How long must it continue? It is not practical to shutdown people’s lives by continuously extending the 14-day shutdown period. And you should also be thankful our response to the crisis has been top-down. Look at the US where Trump is making a mess of things because there is no strong message and execution from the top.

    No solution is perfect, but what our government is doing is the best solution, compared to any country in the world at the moment.

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  • N.Jungne:

    Don’t forget we have the PooLees classter, besides others

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  • pap must close schools casinos:

    any place where more than 20 people can gather needs to be closed.

    social distancing does not work for schools and casinos. immediately obvious to responsible governments that schools casinos must close in order to protect spreading of Wuhan virus.

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  • Pinky Bring Down The Shares:

    How can Pinky be sure that the virus will take years to run down ? Is he a Medical expert ?

    The only thing he helps is to bring the world stock market further down. Farking big mouth trying to act luike an expert. Chow Chee Bye.

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  • @Fence Sitter

    I respectfully disagree.

    Sinkapore is a very very very small island, unlike China. So there is no reason or need to do a complete lock down for months to stop the virus from spreading.

    If those in the ivory tower had not been complacent and selfish from the onset and had taken effective and realistic measures, they would have already contained and stop the spread in less than month, but complacent and smart alec they did probably because they think they are paid millions and therefore should not be accused of following what the lowly paid Chinese are doing, so they come out with their own pattern and BS to gib the impression that they are working hard (to garner more votes from the dafts).

    In my idiotic opinion, whatever retarded measures and wayangs and BS you see being implemented now are all out of political considerations, don’t for a minute be fooled that its for the Sillizens because if they had seriously wanted to, I would reckon it would at most take a month to contain and stop the spread (virus don’t spread cannot infect more people right?) and I don’t say this for no reason because I WAS right smack in the middle of the pandemic in China, I can be said to have 1st hand seen and experienced the successful measures that were implemented.

    In less than 2 months, China can boast that it has stopped the community spread of the coronavirus (dare WHO disagree?) and how many times is China bigger than Sinkapore?

    It appears to me that the party is not willing to nib the problem in the bud at this moment and wants the pandemic to continue (at a controlled rate thus the half-baked retarded measures), at least until GE is over and then they can say” see, we have done a good job and now it is only fair we increase teh GST, utilities and fares so we can pay ourselves 24 months bonus come year end”.

    If they had seriously wanted to, an idiot like me would think at most needed is 1 month, without the need to lock down the city for more than a week, at the most. It at most requires huge logistical inter-agency support and manpower but it can be done.

    Unfortunately what I have in mind won’t happen because if the virus is stopped right in its track within a week, then the the party cannot use the fear factor and retarded BS to entice daft voters to give it an overwhelming mandate.

    In a nutshell, political considerations and the continuity of the party trumps the safety and lives of Sillyzens. As long as party first, the current pandemic would not be resolved but only after the GE then suddenly effective measures would be implemented and the virus suddenly disappear.

    The message from the party first party is very clear. You don’t give us overwhelming mandate and a longer runway, we don’t solve the pandemic. The Coronavirus pandemic is the party’s bargaining chip to hold daft Sillyzens to ransom, get it?

    Anyway, don’t ask me how it can be done in a week (stop the spreading), I am not paid 2 million a year, but I am willing to share that it does not involve the whole nation to wear mask (so no need to sia-suay) nor the retarded social-distancing measures currently in place. lol

    @Pinky Bring Down The Shares

    I respectfully disagree. When President Xi or Trump coughs, the whole world trembles, but d honorable son can vomit blood at most it would affect local share market a little tiny winni bitsy nia. Even when late LKY met his maker (God bless his soul), stock markets all over the world did not even blink at all and how many times is LKY more respected than him?

    .

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  • TruBlu:

    NO GE please!

    it is ANTI-CITIZENS AND ANTI-DEMOCRACY!

    dont believe me,CONDUCT A REAL SURVEY /REFERENDUM AND SEE HOW MANY SGS PREFER NOT TO HAVE ge AT THIS TIME.

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  • Hu Chian:

    Wah, @TRE Techie you very how lian, my guess is it will take 3 months.

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  • @Hu Chian

    I would admit to a certain extent I am, guilty as charged. Frankly, I care a lot about my fellow Sinkaporeans and I do not want to see anything happen to anyone but the slew of retarded and half-baked policies really makes my blood boil, ESPECIALLY when I have seen and experienced simple and straight forward policies that actually worked. All thats needed was to adapt to local context and Sinkapore can have a safe and clean GE by June.

    If you have been coming to TRE often, I have from the onset (before the army of virus decides to go on a world tour) stubbornly advocate the wearing of masks when Sinkapore reported its first infection. I have refuted and slammed the agencies and millisters for advising not wearing of masks and it is still my belief that a mask should be worn especially now with the rapid increase in local spread.

    For the record, I have nothing personal against any agencies or millisters, I tackle policies, don’t do personal and don’t anyhow call people names except retards and idiots. I also don’t do politics and I don’t give a shit who becomes the next PM or President because I easily content one as long as got rice on my dinner table can liao.

    Anyway, back to the topic, I have my reasons for saying so its because I am aware and have seen it work, which is why I am so confident that should it be applied to Sinkapore, the result would be fast fast and steady steady win the race. the SPREAD would be stopped within a month.

    Jack ma the richest man in China once said and I agree with him as to why Alibaba initially (when he was in charge) did not want to employ people from top universities. Thats because these super impressive credentials individuals are mostly book worms and do not think out of teh box.

    An idiot looking at a simple problem would solve it using the most simplest but straight forward way of solving it, but put the same problem to a PhD, he would have flown to the moon and back thinking of a very impressive solution for something as simple as getting from point A to point B, when an idiot knows that the best way is to walk a straight line.

    But these PhDs cannot simply say “walk straight” right, PhD wor, sure must come out with something fancy then can prove to the world that his PhD not bought from Amazon or Taobao, dio bo? Then these PhDs must also make sure that all the MSM must be present to show to the world that their walking from point A to B was done under sibei careful analysis and planning and it was no easy task, again dio bo?

    So then hor, PhDs walk from point A to B sibei complicated one, you know or not. Which is precisely the reason why all the retarded measures like fine here and fine there if not 1m (people out of job you fine for fiack?) will not be very effective one. Idiots like me hungry liao I go straight to hawker centre buy chicken wing and eat lor, but you know ivory tower residents hungry liao must call MSM and bodyguards and then arrange timing shui shui then must pose, queue up steady steady with the best smile then only can buy chicken wing you know or not? Even after eat liao, if pose not good or under exposure, must go back hawker centre again and repeat the whole wayang again, sibei complicated one, you know dio bo?

    OK OK, back to the point, applying it in local context, an idiot (for example yours truly) won’t look at the political or economic aspect of the measures required but will only focus on how to stop the spread using the least money and time with the most straight forward of method.

    But the task force helmed by political appointees cannot use this method for all the reasons I have aforesaid, the most important of which is losing the “FEAR” factor, which is vital to convince and blackmail the dafts into an overwhelming mandate and a super long runway so that the party can continue to pay themselves handsomely for the next 4 years or so.

    Again and in a nutshell, take politics and economic considerations out of the equation and the virus spreading problem would go away in a month, I reckon.

    HOWEVER, I think these millions-paid sure already know the method one. It will eventually be applied under 2 circumstances, namely: When the party has been returned with a biggy mandate and lon runway or before GE can be called, a major outbreak has erupted till they lan lan have to implement or they party members will also kenna and got no place to hide. To rid teh virus spread completely, so far I see there can be no other way except to take the most straight forward solution.

    On a related note, did you know that the measures adopted in Wuhan to stop the virus spread was actually reportedly suggested by a few lowly county health officials and adopted by the authorities and it worked, clearing Wuhan of the spread within a month of it being implemented? Thats after tons of PhDs have wasted a month coming out with half-baked social distancing policies that did not stop the spread completely.

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  • Hu Chian:

    Dear @TRE Techie, just pulling your leg, haha. You don’t look like a idiot to me, what you have said seems very logical and reasonable to me. Actually I do trust you, cheers.

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  • Hu Chian:

    ” On a related note, did you know that the measures adopted in Wuhan to stop the virus spread was actually reportedly suggested by a few lowly county health officials and adopted by the authorities and it worked, clearing Wuhan of the spread within a month of it being implemented? ”

    Knew nothing about it, definitely an informative glimpse, thank you again. As to our motives?,

    ” In our age there is no such thing as ‘keeping out of politics’. All issues are political issues..”

    Site,

    George Orwell: Politics and the English Language – Orwell.ru
    https://www.orwell.ru/library/essays/politics/english/e_polit

    ” Studyworld,What Is Politics
    October 25, 2012
    ( this essay can be found under the comment section of this site :
    http://singaporedesk.blogspot.com/2013/08/elephant-in-room.html

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  • I honestly have no doubt that the son of a Gan and LW want to do good and resolve the situation for Sinkies asap, but unfortunately their hands are tight by political concerns, i.e. the party trumps welfare of Sinkies.

    The task force should never have been chaired by political appointees to begin with. The fact that none of the leaders are medical experts make matters worst.

    It should have been headed by infectious disease experts from NIDC or even local hospitals and advised by a panel of relevant experts but come to think of it, under this party, the composition wouldn’t have mattered as whatever decision would still need to be cleared with the Supreme LEEder.

    BTW, heard today that the most powerful woman in Sinkapore now support wearing of mask liao, but then hor masks insufficient supply, then how? Will the junior ivory tower residents now go source and import masks or not?

    The most powerful woman say one hor, even the Supreme LEEder also have to gib face 3 cents one, dare the ini mini bitsy millisters not listen and follow meh?

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  • Ignorant:

    Fence Sitter: No solution is perfect, but what our government is doing is the best solution, compared to any country in the world at the moment.

    Thermometer and temperature scanning are SARS. Are we doing rigorous testing? Look at some countries which are doing that. Are we wearing masks to slow the spread of the virus? Look at some countries which are doing it. We need to be fast learner otherwise it will soon be GAME OVER.

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  • Police CLOSE DOWN:

    Key problem is letting the infected in.

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