Singapore Experts Say Covid-19 Won’t Taper Off Like SARS, It’s Here To Stay For The Year

While Singapore’s response to Covid-19 has been lauded by many countries, reports of new cases suggest that the war is not over yet.

In fact, experts believe it is unlikely that Covid-19 will taper off, like severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) did back in 2003.

Covid-19 will stay as more people worldwide getting infected

On Monday (9 Mar), 4 experts weighed in on the Covid-19 outbreak during an hour-long discussion broadcasted by The Straits Times.

4 experts weigh in on the Covid-19 outbreak
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They said that as the epicentre of the outbreak shifts away from China, and more people around the world are being diagnosed with Covid-19, it is unlikely that the disease will taper off like SARS did.

In fact, according to Associate Professor Hsu Li Yang, infectious diseases programme leader at the National University of Singapore’s Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health:

The virus is here to stay until the end of the year.

He added that given the spike in global cases, hopes that the outbreak will be over by April or May will be dashed.

Professor Hsu says the virus is here to stay.
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Watch the full discussion below:

3 possible scenarios for the world

Another expert, Professor Tikki Pangestu, a former director of the World Health Organisation’s (WHO’s) research policy and cooperation department, shared that the world faces 3 possible scenarios.

Prof Pangestu envisions 3 scenarios for the world.
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  1. Covid-19 will continue to be an emergency, and more countries will have outbreaks, including severe cases.
  2. Covid-19 might “disappear completely”, like SARS.
  3. Covid-19 becomes endemic. This means that the world might have to live alongside it, like other viruses such as the H1N1 swine flu virus.

Covid-19 won’t disappear like SARS as transmission is different

Professor Leo Yee Sin, executive director of the National Centre for Infectious Diseases, believes scenario two, where the virus goes away, is unlikely to happen.

She explains that the way the virus is transmitted by SARS patients and by those with Covid-19 is inherently different. Patients with Covid-19 tend to “secrete the virus earlier”, making it difficult to control.

Prof Leo does not believe that Covid-19 will disappear completely.
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Covid-19 likely to be part of our daily lives

According to Prof Pangestu, the WHO considers the third scenario to be the most likely:

It’s going to become part of our daily existence.

Associate Professor Kenneth Mak, director of medical services at the Ministry of Health, seconded this notion. He believed that given the current state of affairs, the virus is unlikely to go away within the next few months:

We have to be mentally prepared… and even consider it as a new normal.

Professor Mak stressed the importance of continued vigilance
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As such, people in Singapore should continue to be vigilant, and practise good personal hygiene, he added.

A ray of hope amid the crisis

While the global outlook doesn’t appear to be peachy, all hope is not lost.

In a media briefing on 9 Mar, WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom mentioned that the decline in the number of new cases reported in China and South Korea show that it is never too late to turn back the tide on this virus.

Thus, it is too early for us to throw in the towel now. Let’s keep up our efforts in fighting Covid-19, and never give up.

Feature image adapted from The Stacked Homes.