Transparency and open communication is required for the effective management of pandemics and crises

#COVID19 is going to be with us for the next two years or so, or more, until a vaccine or cure is developed.

This means that we have to change our work patterns and lifestyles to adjust to the new environment.

We cannot underestimate COVID-19. Some decision-makers in Singapore have talked about how COVID-19 is too smart and so they are catching up. But, you look at countries like Taiwan and South Korea which have managed it better (thus far). Why?

In Taiwan, the decision-makers are healthcare workers, not politicians. Their decisions are guided by science, not politics. Second, they are a step ahead of the virus. With what is known about influenza and coronaviruses, they planned ahead. They do not think they know better. This is a mistake Singapore made.

In South Korea, it previously had many times more cases than Singapore. But Singapore today has more cases than South Korea. When South Korea started seeing COVID-19 cases spike, it started to increase testing capacity so that it could even conduct 20,000 tests a day by mid-March. Today, Singapore can still only conduct up to 3,000 tests. If there is widespread transmission in the community instead of the dormitories, would we have the capacity to upscale testing? Or, are we not increasing testing because the spread is occurring within the dormitories?

Singapore’s decision-makers have to apologize because they made mistakes. They cannot be evasive.

From end-January, it was already known asymptomatic transmission of COVID-19 is possible. Yet, masks were not recommended. It is known the incubation period of the virus could be as long as 14 days. Yet, schools were initially only suspended for sterilization for 1 day. It was known that migrant worker dormitories were hot spots from transmission, due to the cramped living spaces. Yet, the government warned companies not to send migrant workers for testing or face penalties. Singapore’s CB lockdown and school closures came too late even as calls have been made as early as February for Singapore to at least close schools to cut transmission. These are clear missteps the Singapore PAP government made. They need to apologize and take responsibility. These are not issues of hindsight, because the evidence is clear.

It is clear that Singapore’s political, physical and social infrastructures are not built to cope with COVID-19. Moving forward, we need to strengthen these infrastructures.

First, social distancing measures and semi-lockdowns would need to become a norm for the next two years or so. To do so, flexible work practices would need to be adopted to ensure Singapore can continue to function with as much normalcy as possible. This means that the labor laws need to be changed to ensure workers have greater flexibility without having their pay or current leave entitlement be deducted. It also means new forms of leave that should be provided for workers if they have to stay at home to take care of their children, in case of necessary school closures. Unemployment benefits also need to be institutionalized and be pegged to a minimum standard of income necessary for basic living, to ensure workers who will lose their jobs in such a fluid environment will be supported, especially during these two years of transition. We have to be prepared for sudden changes to our systems, and we need policies in advance to cope with these changes that will keep coming.

School closures will need to become a norm, as and when confirmed cases are identified, such as in Taiwan where schools will be shut for 14 days. Online learning will need to become a norm, and we will need to think of new ways to evaluate the learnings of children.

During this COVID-19 period, Singapore’s healthcare infrastructure has clearly not been able to cope, and the government is struggling to built and identify new facilities to hold patients. The issue is that Singapore’s health infrastructure was built with the bare minimum to cope with another pandemic like SARS, but not for one like COVID-19. Therefore, Singapore today has one of the least number of healthcare workers and hospital beds relative to the population among the developed countries. Moving forward, we need to invest more in the education of healthcare workers and increase the number of beds, especially critical beds. Other than provide free and affordable healthcare, such affordability needs to be extended to other forms of illnesses to ensure that residents are able to cope with illnesses, and not be easily susceptible to viruses or diseases. The medical leave policy also needs to be more supportive of workers’ ability to take leave where necessary.

For migrant workers, we need to construct high rise buildings with adequate spaces to provide housing for them, and not only that, but also for nursing and elderly homes, as well as for the homeless, so that the vulnerable are protected and not become unwitting vectors of transmission for COVID-19 in the next two years, as well as for future pandemics. For a start, empty housing identified can be used for such housing, with new ones starting to be built now.

Singapore’s ability to cope with COVID-19 has been weakened due to the resistance of decision-makers to listen to the feedback and advice of both experts and residents who have provided feedback based on available evidence. A new political system would need to be brought in where bottom-up participation is not only encouraged but institutionalized so that decision-making is a collective process which will strengthen Singapore’s response for future pandemics and crises. This means that Singaporeans need to exercise their political choice to institute political power which would be responsive. It also means not surrending decision-making but to partake in decision-making via civic participation.

Transparency and open communication is required for the effective management of pandemics and crises. To do so, would require political and social transformations, and new methods to adapt to the changes that COVID-19 will bring to the economic, physical and work environment.

 

Roy Ngerng

 

 

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8 Responses to “Transparency and open communication is required for the effective management of pandemics and crises”

  • patriot of TUMASIK:

    No lah Roy, they are 1st World copy cats that must follow or listen to…

    WHO-UN- or whatever shit organisation or Shitty Fake News that praise them…

    No Mind or Ideas of their own leh!!! only shit between their ears…

    The sheeple like the sheep they are given an ILLUSION and some Crumbs off the Banquet Table they Bleat Yes Sir!!! I am a Fool…

    Credit though MUST be given to the Bastard with his diabolical Idea of LEEgal Corruption…

    TAKE a dollar from the sheep and RETURN 80cts for the creation of an ILLUSION and keeping 20cts as LEEgal Corruption

    All Happy lor!!! the sheep work their ass out and the Bastard and Cronies build the ILLUSION and keeping their LEEgal corrupted Fees in Salaries KPI Bonus and what have you in the Crony Businesses including Stock & Shares NOT forgetting the HDB fee-only LEEgaly Done through Lie & Lie

    Stay where you are Roy till it is Time to Come “HOME” to the song written by Dick!!!… and Dick wrote it from the Heart for the “HOME” we all miss when we were younger and Dick is no Lover of PAP and Harry he does NOT NEED to curry lah!!! he has enough $$$ coming out from his ears and definitely NOT shit

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  • Singalong:

    Our govt copied this Singalong HOME song idea from European countries. And some moron Mediacork stars wanted to get cheap publicity by promoting this event. It’s a dicky event organised by another dicky, while 13,000 infected workers are living in fear if they will ever see their families again.

    Dump Singaporeans fell for this planned distraction by the Govt. Bodoh

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  • trublu:

    Transparency n honesty are KEY to fighting COVID 19.

    I fear many innocent bystanders are infected but do not know becos asymptomatic n NOT TESTED.

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  • Wake up call:

    The Covid-19 virus is a wake up call for Singapore.
    Will need to improve our preparedness and quick response to future pandemic.

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  • Next ....:

    Next …. Sue China ?

    Have balls boh ?

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  • Joseph Teo Gan Wong:

    See like the authorities changed the criteria for statistics of covid? I heard something like that from media.

    If so, why and how can we be sure no China type of data “presentation” or corrections?

    What mechanism is in place to prevent a govt or authorities from massaging data not that there has ever been such a case?

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  • Harder Truths:

    Scholars who know how to do things merely from reading books will never be one step ahead of anything. Except when it comes to their pay.

    No one is going to get sacked. Left hand protect right hand. This is how it works in a communist system.

    Don’t for one second think you live in a democracy and elections will be there forever. Everything can be taken away – like the Presidency – when it becomes a problem.

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  • ccp virus:

    @Next ….:
    April 26, 2020 at 11:04 pm (Quote)
    Next …. Sue China ?

    Have balls boh ?

    Response:
    Cannot sue…CCP brother Singapore Communist Party (SCP) will come after you.

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