And so it has come to past, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (PM Lee) has announced new unprecedented measures to shut the country down as of the middle next week.
While I can understand that this is a confusing time for all involved and news is evolving quickly, I do think we need clarity from authorities in relation to how COVID-19 is being managed.
Despite the new measures,” authorities have still held back from raising the national virus risk assessment to red, the top level, saying the spread could still be controlled through other preventative measures such as contact tracing and quarantine”.
According to the “Disease Outbreak Response System Condition”(DORSCON) which is essentially a colour-coded framework that shows the current disease situation put together by the government to provide Singaporeans with general guidelines on what needs to be done to prevent and reduce the impact of infections, it would appear that we are at Code Red no matter what the government may (or may not in this instance) have said.
While I appreciate the efforts put into DORSCON, I fail to meaningfully see its purpose if we are for all intents and purposes at Code Red but still not calling it what it is? It dilutes the work that has been put into the system and renders it meaningless.
DORSCON states that at the Code Red stage, there would be major disruptions to daily life such as school closures, work from home orders and significant number of deaths. Isn’t that where we are right now?
Some might dispute that we have not yet had a significant number of deaths but that really is a debate for another day. The point is, the government has already asked people to work from home where possible and announced a schools shut down.
So, if this isn’t Code Red, what is?
At this stage of the outbreak management, it might be time for the authorities to give a clearer messaging to its people.
Clarity provides security in times of pandemics. If you are asking people to stay at home but yet refusing to call it Code Red, you are sending out mixed messages which can impact disease control management. Some people might think it is okay to still go out and socialise for instance because Code Orange does not really advocate staying at home.
Could it perhaps be that calling the situation Code Red officially could jeopardise the conduct of the next election within the next few months?