Reveal Daily Covid Test Numbers, Positive Rate For Proper Perspective — Pola Singh

The number of confirmed Covid-19 cases a day depends on how many tests are conducted on a daily basis.

The number of Covid-19 cases is increasing day by day and we are all getting frightened. Yes, if we evaluate the situation solely on the rising daily figures, there is indeed cause for concern.

But to evaluate the gravity and seriousness of Covid-19 pandemic, the number of daily cases does not tell the full story.

By right there is a need to match the number of new cases with the NUMBER OF TESTS CONDUCTED DAILY.  Of course, the number of cases will increase the greater number of tests is conducted each day.

In other words, the number of confirmed cases a day depends on how many tests are conducted on a daily basis. The more people are tested, the higher the probability of detecting more cases. So, the crux of the matter is the number of tests that is being carried out daily must be matched with the number of new cases. Put to the extreme: no tests, no new cases.

The government only provides the number of new cases daily and the only assessment the public can make is to compare with the previous day’s figure. Recent daily numbers have been rising and causing public anxiety and concern. The current daily four-digit figures of 5,000 plus must be put in its proper perspective.

For instance, if 50,000 people are tested on Monday and 5,000 are positive and another 100,000 are tested on Tuesday, with 7,500 testing positive, the public will have the impression that the situation has worsened based on the absolute figures provided.

In actual fact, the opposite is true in that the situation has improved somewhat. The absolute number (from 5,000 to 7,500) by itself is not meaningful unless it is compared with the number of tests conducted on the respective days.

Given that from December 1, all foreign workers nationwide are required to undergo mandatory Covid-19 screening, we should expect more cases until the whole exercise is over (the testing of undocumented foreign workers is another separate issue).

By the way, Singapore conducted a similar comprehensive testing programme for all foreign workers and as a result, the number of new cases surged for a period of time. This important information (number of tests conducted per day) has to be conveyed to the public so that they will not be overly alarmed and worried at the daily rising figures in the short-term.

The point I am making is that the Health Ministry, in addition to informing the public of new cases each day, should also indicate the number of tests conducted. Only by matching the number of new cases with the number of tests conducted daily, will we realistically know whether our situation is worsening or improving.

  • This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of CodeBlue.

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