SINGAPORE, May 17 — The Covid-19 situation faced by Singapore is likely more dangerous than just before the circuit breaker last year, given that many community cases are unlinked and the spread involving mutant strains may be “wide and far”, a top infectious disease expert has warned.
In a message circulating on WhatsApp, Dr David Lye, director of infectious disease research at the National Centre for Infectious Diseases (NCID), appealed to the public to “do much more beyond what the Government dictates”, by staying home and avoiding crowded places.
He urged people to form their own social bubble and not to socialise beyond that bubble.
TODAY confirmed with NCID on Monday (May 17) that the text was written by Dr Lye in his personal capacity.
He wrote that 2020 was marked by the huge outbreak in dormitories among migrant workers, but that those could be contained by locking the dormitories down.
“The many (recent) cases with no linkage now suggest the spread to the community from the Changi Airport outbreak may be wide and far,” he said.
A total of 38 new community Covid-19 infections were confirmed in Singapore as of noon on Sunday, and of those, 17 were unlinked.
Subscribe to our email newsletter
Other than staying at home and avoiding crowds, Dr Lye urged residents to form a small social bubble and to not socialise beyond this bubble.
He also urged people to wear a mask over their mouth and nose even when walking in parks, and called on more to get vaccinated.
Dr Lye said that the recent Covid-19 cluster at Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH) shows that “not enough vulnerable old people get vaccinated”.
“This is serious,” he added.
Dr Lye noted that although Singapore has effective vaccines and treatment, and an expanded testing capacity, the country is up against “new mutant strains that infected TTSH and Changi Airport staff despite masks and vaccination”.
Dr Lye said 40 to 50 per cent of those infected in the latest outbreak have no symptoms and can be equally infectious, while 10 per cent can get sick enough to need oxygen.
Of the cases reported on Sunday, six of the seven cases that tested preliminarily positive for the B1617 variant were unlinked cases. This variant is often referred to as a “double mutant” and was first observed in India.
“If you want to keep your family safe, you need to listen and do the above,” Dr Lye said. “If a country is overwhelmed like India, many will die including children and young people.”
“My colleagues and I do not want to see you in NCID or any of the public hospitals,” he added.
“Please feel free to share by copying into your own social media wall or WhatsApp groups.” — TODAY