Low cases or even zero cases do not mean the virus is eliminated. We are safe only when the whole world is safe.
But unfortunately, the virus is raging in many parts of the world with no end in sight as winter draws near.
Many countries are seeing surges in second waves where the daily records are worse than those seen in the first waves. It’s happening in Europe and the US. It’s happening elsewhere.
It isn’t just the mortality rate that we should be concerned with. For the individual, it’s the aftermath of recovering from COVID-19.
Survival is not the only goal: Ho Ching
Scientists and doctors are now studying the post-recovery risks of COVID-19, Mdm Ho Ching said.
What they are starting to see, she said, are recovered patients including those with mild symptoms, being hit by long term health problems like diabetes, heart, brain, lungs, and other vital organ dysfunction.
“Recovered patients can become diabetic even when they do not have diabetes before Covid. Others suffer sudden heart failure or stroke, within weeks of recovery. They die or become disabled by such health problems. Others suffer foggy brain,”
Ho Ching said in the Facebook post.
And young people can get very sick.
This is why younger Singaporeans should not take the virus lightly because the mortality rate is low for them. They should think of the debilitating post-COVID risks, Ho Ching emphasised.
With the surges in the world, we need to maintain vigilance for the next 6 months.
Even countries with low rates in the first half of the year are now seeing big surges. According to Ho Ching, Holland has run out of hospital beds and is asking Germany to help take some hospitalised patients.
How these second waves start. Ho Ching explains…
Whether in Japan, Korea, or Europe, it is increasingly clear that mobile young people in their 20s and 30s are one main driver. They are the “walking well”. They have mild symptoms and they are mobile.
“Some may get very sick or die later, but most of them are very mobile physically and socially before and just after their symptoms begin to show,” Ho Ching said.
“This is also when they are most infectious. Then, about 8-12 weeks later, the second waves start to rise. Infections now spread to all age group across the community. Outbreaks can happen in care homes, prisons and elsewhere,” she added. By then, the danger is already hard to contain.
The only consolation, she said, is that the rate of transmission can be slowed down by safety measures like hand washing, wearing of masks, working from home, reduced numbers eating together, etc or the severity of the illness is reduced because of low viral load.
Screening and segregating COVID-19 positive patients early
Fortunately for Singapore, we now have more affordable, and faster tools to detect infectious cases, to ‘allow us to screen and segregate C+ patients for care or treatment early, and prevent further community spread,’ Ho Ching said.
We should put these tools that we have in place as fast as we can, she said.
“Even a delay in the decision to try these new approaches is a decision in itself which can have very drastic and bad consequences later. Now that our community cases are very low, we should double up to put in these community cluster prevention systems as soon as we can. Only then can we re-open our economy safely for lives and livelihoods without sparking off a huge 2nd wave that we are seeing elsewhere in the world,” Ho Ching stressed.
“Let’s stay prepared, and start preparing now.
Let’s not wait till we see numbers rising into triple digits before we act.
And the more we screen and protect our people preemptively now, the less likely we need to shut down foe a circuit breaker again.
The sooner we do this, the less costly will it be in lives and livelihood for all of us.
Let’s not be complacent now just bcos the Singapore numbers are low.
Let’s not tire now when the storm is raging all around us, threatening to peak in the weeks and months to come, and we must re-open and stay open for business, jobs, and livelihoods.
We must prepare our dikes properly, both at our borders and within our community.
We have tools today which we didn’t have, even as recently as a month ago. We will have more in the months ahead.
All hands on deck, folks.
Take a break and recharge if we must, but we must be mentally and physically be ready for a marathon into 2021.
– Ho Ching –
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