Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat has taken to Facebook (FB) to express his sentiments in relation to the last day of the Circuit Breaker (CB) measures. Apart from detailing his activities for the day and sounding warnings in relation to the local and global opportunity, Heng took the opportunity to update us with the alleged progress in the battle against the coronavirus.
Among other things, he said : “The main difference between now and eight weeks ago, is that we have largely brought the spread of the virus under control. But the economic situation, in Singapore and around the world, has worsened, with a deeper recession forecasted. ”
Have we really brought the spread of the virus under control? Given that the numbers are still high and that there are still new cases reported everyday, is it not too early to claim that we have brought COVID-19 largely under control?
It sounds eerily similar to the early stages of the virus when Singapore was still hailed as having the “gold standard” in virus containment only for us to be hit with a massive infection rate later.
At that time, the government was arguably complacent. As the international media were heaping praise on us, the government failed to take any action when migrant worker infections were made public in February. In publicly stating that we have “largely brought the spread of the virus under control” when cases are still high sounds like counting chickens before they hatch.
Will the government make the same mistake twice?
The day to day number of new cases in Singapore remain erratic. Lets look at the figures in the last few days as an example.
As of noon on 28 May, there were 373 new COVID-19 cases in Singapore. This increased drastically on 29 May, to 611 new COVID-19 cases only to drop to 506 new cases as of noon on 30 May. Just the next day however, the number of new cases appeared to have increased yet again to 518 new cases. Then on 1 June, it has now dropped to 408 new cases. With these irregular numbers, how can Heng conclude that things are largely under control?
Looking at how the numbers are going up and down like a yo-yo, it seems far too soon to conclude that anything is under control and the fact that Heng would publicly say that they seems to suggest that he is either blissfully unaware of what is happening or arguably claiming credit way too soon.
Neither scenario is particularly reassuring.