Will Singapore’s Circuit Breaker Arrest Covid-19 Surge?

The problem started when thousands returned home to Singapore.

KUALA LUMPUR, April 11 –- Singapore’s Covid-19 epidemic continued to experience a surge yesterday with 198 cases being newly reported. The day before, the daily count reached almost 300.

Earlier, the threat of the surge caused the Singapore government to initiate its version of a partial lock-down titled “Circuit Breaker” on 7 April. New legislation was passed to put it into effect.

The ‘circuit breaker’ will last till 5 May and is intended to slow the community spread of the disease.

The main message to all Singaporeans is already a familiar one to those living in neighbouring countries: stay at home and leave only for essentials.

Fines for violating imposed measures are up to S$10,000 or six months in prison.

The total number of people positive with the disease in the city-state is now 2,108. Almost 500 individuals have since recovered and there have been 7 Covid-19 related deaths.

Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong makes a national broadcast on the COVID-19 situation on 10 April 2020. CREDIT: Prime Minister’s Office, Singapore. YouTube channel.

The Straits Times reported that recovering patients have been moved from public to private hospitals almost daily since last week. The Singapore Expo conference centre has been converted to house patients in recovery and those with a mild case of the disease.

For the past few months, Singapore’s approach to dealing with the epidemic has been held up as an outstanding example in surveillance and quarantine.

Singapore had its first case in late January. A prepared response framework kicked into action with health checks at the points of entry into the country, contact tracing and self-quarantine being imposed.

Its aggressive approach led to numbers being kept low, traceable and clusters clearly defined and contained.

The problem began in March when thousands returned from abroad. As many as 500 individuals were positive and were directed to self-quarantine. However, their interactions were not strictly restricted. A proportion of the new cases also began originating from foreign worker dormitories.

Sporadic community cases have since began to appear in the Singapore caseload. They are not easily traceable.

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