The Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) urges all Singaporeans to remain calm following the news about the Bukit Panjang cluster, while also calling for the Government to be transparent about testing results and other strategies to contain the spread of the virus.
Following a Straits Times report about 11,000 public transport staff being tested for COVID-19 following evidence of nearly 100 past infections among people linked to the Bukit Panjang transport centre cluster, the SDP urged residents to not panic.
In a statement on its chairman Dr Paul Tambyah’s Facebook page on Sunday (9 Aug), the Party said, “Many residents of Bukit Panjang and its surrounding areas may have been alarmed by the report on the front page of the Straits Times … We would urge residents not to panic.”
It continued, “Singapore’s public health authorities are amongst the world’s leaders in experience and expertise in terms of using serological testing to identify contacts and clusters of COVID-19 infection.”
The SDP pointed to the incident in early March when the Government used serological testing to identify past infections in two cases which allow authorities to then link them to previously unlinked church clusters, thus shutting down the chains of transmission.
This breakthrough, which was detailed in an article on Gov.sg, was a result of a test developed by the research team at Duke-NUS Medical School which could detect virus-specific antibodies to determine if a person had already contracted and recovered from COVID-19.
The article noted that the two cases – case 83 and 91 – were tested for the virus using a Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test at NCID but the results were negative. This is because the PCR “detects whether viral genetic material (COVID-19 in this case) is present in a patient’s biological sample.” Therefore, once a patient has recovered and the virus has cleared from his system, the test will return negative.
Later, however, the MOH employed the new serological test developed by Duke-NUS which showed that case 83 and 91 had both been infected by COVID-19 before.
“This was a significant piece of evidence, as it definitively established the links between the two church clusters, the CNY family gathering, and the travellers from Wuhan,” said the article.
In SDP’s statement, it noted, “We are confident that similar results will be achieved with the recent cases linked with the Bukit Panjang Transport hub identified by serological testing.”
The Party went on to urge residents of Bukit Panjang to practise good hand hygiene and seek medical attention if they feel unwell.
“If anyone has acute respiratory symptoms or sudden loss of smell and taste, you should go to one of the PHPC (Pandemic Health Preparedness Clinics) where you can get tested for COVID-19 under the SASH (“Swab and Send Home”) program,” it added.
The SDP also urged those who have spent time at the Bukit Panjang integrated transport hub, or are in close contact with those who have, to inform the healthcare staff at a clinic or hospital.
It concluded, “The Singapore government also needs to be transparent with the public about testing results and other strategies to contain the spread of the virus. We are confident that the people of Singapore will be able to succeed in this challenge.”