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Review of circuit breaker in Singapore

Singapore started the circuit breaker on 7 April 2020. At that time, it was intended to last for four weeks until May 4.

The whole world was worried about the seriousness of the virus. Wuhan in China implemented the lockdown on 23 January. During the following nine weeks, we saw a large number of hospital cases, intensive cases and deaths. The hospitals were overwhelmed. Two emergency hospitals had to be built within 10 days.

We also saw the breakdown of hospital system in Italy when the number of cases overwhelmed the capacity.

When the government discovered that there were large number of infections among the foreign worker dormitories in Singapore, there was alarm. We need to control the spread. There were already many cases treated in hospital. The hospital facilities could be overwhelmed.

The government introduced restrictions under the circuit breaker. All non-essential workplaces and retail outlets had to stop operation during the period of the circuit breaker.

I did not agree with the circuit breaker. I felt that it as unnecessary, hasty and unwise. However, I was prepared to accept that the government ministers had their reason to implement the restriction measures.

When the circuit breaker was extended further after 4 May, I was horrified. I declared the decision to be insane. My reasons were:

* While the infection continued to spread in the dormitories, it did ot spread to the wider community.

* Most of the foreign workers did not require hospital treatment. They could be isolated in special facilities

* The number of hospital treatment, intensive care treatment for covid cases remained at a low level.

* While there were a few deaths, the number is small relative to the population and to most other countries.

It was clear to me, at that time, that the risk was low. While it was still necessary to implement restrictions on the foreign workers living in the dormitories, it was safe to relax the restrictions in the rest of the economy.

However, the government decided to continue the restrictions for a year. While some measures were relaxed under the phase 2 and phase 3, they were still serious to harm the economy and the livelihood in a severe manner.

The damage to the economic is enormous. It will not be easy to recover, in spite of the assurances given by the ministers.

I believe that the ministers made a bad judgment by continuing the circuit breaker after May 2020. They should have looked at the actual data and realize that the covid virus is mild in a warm climate in Singapore.

Indeed, the covid was mild in the western countries during summer. It became worse when winter approaches. Now that the climate is becoming warmer, the cases and deaths had dropped.

It was insanity for the ministers to follow a protocol that is appropriate for cold climates, when Singapore is in perpetual summer.

If they had looked at the data with an open mind, and were willing to take a bold decision instead of “better safe than sorry”, they might have acted differently. We might have a stronger economy. More people would have returned to a more normal livelihood.

This is my assessment. I would have preferred to relax the restriction measures in the second half of 2020 to see if I was right. If I was wrong, we could return to the strict measures. It would not be disaster.

We never know, if we dare not try.

 

Tan Kin Lian

 

 

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2 Responses to “Review of circuit breaker in Singapore”

  • opposition dude:

    Textbook Tan is always good for a laugh when he says the lockdown wasn’t necessary ha ha ha ha ha!

    If it wasn’t necessary then why were so many countries doing it then hmm?

    Textbook Tan would fail spectacularly if he was in charge. And when things do go wrong expect him to push the blame on others just like PAP.

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  • #06-195 Low Guai + old fool:

    The covid measures are just there to inconvenience people, make everyone look weird and are basically anti social.

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