As Singapore begins to record spikes in the daily toll of COVID-19 cases in Singapore, CEO of Temasek Holdings Ho Ching called for extensive testing to better separate those who are positive with the virus with those who are clear of it.
Mdm Ho, who is also the wife of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, said in a Facebook post yesterday (16 April) that while the team at Singapore Expo — one of the isolation facilities for confirmed COVID-19 cases — “has been running flat out”, it is also “dealing with an exponential challenge”.
“The Expo team needs to run faster to accommodate the wave coming in as more testing is being done to try to identify covid cases among the dorm residents,” she said, referring to migrant workers residing in dormitories gazetted as isolation areas last week after clusters were identified in the said dormitories.
Temasek Holdings is the operator of Singapore Expo.
Segregating those who tested negative for the virus from those who have yet to be tested, said Mdm Ho, poses “another huge facilities challenge”.
This is because the results may be tentative. Thus, those tested negative “need to be held in individual isolation cubicles in a holding area” to undergo swab tests again and wait for their second test results, she explained.
Building “clean dorms” to which those tested negative twice over 24 hours can be decanted, said Mdm Ho, will take time.
“So we will make do with temporary facilities until more permanent facilities are ready,” she said.
Mdm Ho also said that there are currently two “streams” of positive cases observed at the Expo facility, namely young people with mild cases and older ones or those with chronic underlying conditions such as hypertension and lung disease.
The former will be placed in early care facilities alongside recovering patients, while “will move to hospitals so that ICU facilities are easily accessible”, she said.
“For the mild or asymptomatic cases early young patients, medical support is provided, and anyone going into moderate stage will be moved to the partner hospitals.
“So do expect numbers to climb for dorm residents over the next few days, as testing is being scaled up rapidly.
“Each day we can identify a case early and isolate from others, it’s a multiple of cases less,” said Mdm Ho.
Mdm Ho’s remarks were made in relation to figures released by the Ministry of Health (MOH) late Wed (15 Apr) on the COVID-19 situation in Singapore.
Singapore as of 12 pm yesterday recorded a new highest daily toll of 447 COVID-19 infection cases, bringing the total number of cases in the country since the onset of the outbreak to 3,699.
Of the new cases, 404 of them are work permit holders residing in dormitories, according to MOH.
38 are from the community and 5 are work permit holders residing outside of dormitories. No imported case has been reported.
145 cases are currently unlinked to previous infected cases, which is also the highest since Singapore had its first infected case on 23 Jan this year.
Mdm Ho’s announcement regarding how COVID-19 cases are managed raises questions on why announcements regarding the country’s pandemic management plan are made by the CEO of a Singapore investment company.
No detailed announcements on how the Expo community isolation facility is to be run have been made by the multi-ministry taskforce to date. So how did she get to know about all these plans?
Further, when Mdm Ho used the word “we”, was she referring to Singaporeans or the government — and if she was referring to the latter, and if she was referring to the latter, is Mdm Ho commenting as a civil servant?
Mdm Ho is, after all, just the spouse of PM Lee and the CEO of a private company.