After about 20 months, Singapore is unfortunately still living under the threat of Covid-19.
Along the way, we’ve witnessed several different approaches to handling the situation.
While we had a ‘Circuit Breaker’ last year, Singapore never went to that extreme this year. In fact, we’re slowly reopening – ironically when the number of cases are higher than ever.
Singaporeans may gripe about this, but Health Minister Ong Ye Kung has said that this strategy has been the correct approach.
That’s because we’ve been able to avert massive numbers of deaths, unlike other countries, he added.
Minister Ong said this while speaking at the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society 21 APAC Conference on Monday (18 Oct).
During his speech, he explained Singapore’s Covid-19 approach, describing it as “unique in the world”.
This is because we didn’t take a purely “Covid-zero” approach – i.e. trying to totally eradicate the virus in the population – which is still being conducted by countries like China.
Neither have we gone all out with the “living with Covid” approach and fully reopened, which many Western countries like Denmark have done.
Rather, Minister Ong said Singapore’s approach is “middle of the road”.
That means we adopted the Covid-zero eradication strategy – hence the ‘Circuit Breaker’ – only last year and early this year.
This was when our population was mostly unvaccinated and vulnerable.
Now that the majority – 84% – of our population has been vaccinated, this has given us a “protective shield”, he added.
Thus, Singapore is now opening up progressively and won’t be returning to lockdown.
However, neither are we going to have “a sudden lifting of all restrictions” – much like the “freedom day” of some other countries.
Minister Ong admitted that Singapore’s middle-of-the-road approach might be unclear.
It may even seem like a “flip-flop”, he added.
Whatever we may call it, he pointed out there’s at least 1 positive result from this approach: It’s helped us avert “massive deaths”.
This is unlike many other countries that have experienced “massive waves of infections and incurred many tragic deaths”.
Their hospitals have also been overwhelmed – something the minister said we’ve managed to avert so far.
Speaking of deaths, Singapore has reported 239 fatalities from Covid-19 as of Monday (18 Oct). We’ve also logged consecutive days of multiple deaths.
Minister Ong acknowledged the loved ones of the deceased, saying,
To those who suffered the loss of a loved one, please accept our condolences.
Due to these reasons, Minister Ong feels that our method of dealing with Covid-19 is the “correct approach for Singapore”.
He also sounded an optimistic tone, saying that we’re “moving closer to the light at the end of the tunnel” day by day.
The minister acknowledged the “indomitable spirit” of healthcare professionals around the world, and added that the Ministry of Health (MOH) is mobilising more manpower resources to support them.
It’s understandable that Singaporeans might question the way the pandemic is being handled.
After all, we seem to have shifted between 2 different approaches, giving rise to feelings of confusion and whiplash.
However, it’s the number of deaths that’s the most important.
So if we’re managed to avoid more deaths than we currently have, can we still argue that we could’ve done better? Do share your thoughts with us.
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Featured image adapted from Ong Ye Kung on Facebook.
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