Singapore — National Development Minister Lawrence Wong, who co-chairs the multi-ministry task force on Covid-19 with Health Minister Gan Kim Yong, has said that half of the Covid-19 cases in Singapore have no symptoms of the illness. This is why the country’s approach to opening the economy has been cautious, despite the severe economic fallout due to the coronavirus.
Mr Wong said at a virtual press conference on Monday (June 8): “Based on our experience, for every symptomatic case you would have at least one asymptomatic case.
“That is exactly why we have been very cautious in our reopening plans.”
And while Singapore’s coronavirus case count remains among the highest in the region due to an outbreak of infections among foreign workers living in dormitories, its fatality rate has been very low. To date, 25 people have died of coronavirus-related causes, while there have been 38,296 confirmed cases. A total of 25,368 individuals have recovered from Covid-19 in Singapore.
But the city-state began to reopen on June 2, after a circuit breaker of nearly two months. Many people, however, are still working from home and even family gatherings are still not allowed.
Reuters reported that Mr Wong did not disclose how many asymptomatic coronavirus patients Singapore has. He did say, however, that how infectious asymptomatic patients are is still in question, but added that these individuals have fewer opportunities to spread the virus since they are not coughing or sneezing.
“But we’ve had transmissions from asymptomatic cases before,” he added, “so, as long as asymptomatic persons are living in close quarters, speaking, sharing food, interacting in close proximity to one another, infection can still happen.”
Mr Wong responded to those asked why the economy has not been opened faster. “We have to take a more cautious approach. There are still asymptomatic cases which we may not have detected circulating in the community,” he said.
Mr Wong also talked about the small Bluetooth device the Government wants to give all residents in order to keep track of infections. These devices can be carried in handbags or worn around the neck. By the end of the month, he said, these devices would be distributed to a test group, and he assured the public that the privacy of the bearers of the device would be protected.
The National Development Minister added that, ideally, everyone should be tested for the coronavirus but admitted to limited testing capacities.
Testing will continued to be carried out “in a strategic and deliberate manner, based on risk”, he added.
“And then, we are going to go and look at different high-risk groups, including workers who are in the front line of Covid operations, construction, marine and process — we are going to test them regularly. We are also going to regularly test vulnerable groups, including nursing home residents.
“And, again, if our test capacity increases, certainly we will bring in more people to be tested.” /TISG