Forum: Don't decide to relax curbs based on fall in Covid-19 infection growth rate

The official number of new Covid-19 cases reported daily by the Ministry of Health (MOH) is still in the thousands, and daily deaths are often in double digits.

The multi-ministerial task force tackling the pandemic said last month that if the weekly infection growth rate drops below one and the hospital situation remains stable, it plans to ease measures in areas such as dining out.

It was reported yesterday that the weekly infection growth rate on Saturday was 0.83, the fourth day in a row it had dropped below one since MOH started reporting the figure.

So, if the number stays below one for an entire week, would that mean Singapore should celebrate and ease restrictions?

I advise great caution in using the weekly infection growth rate as a reliable guide to how well the disease is being controlled.

The official number of new Covid-19 cases likely does not include many cases who are either asymptomatic or have mild symptoms and opt to rest at home without taking a test.

Thus, the weekly infection growth rate may not be a reliable indicator of the number of Covid-19-positive cases in our midst, and if we ease restrictions too soon, we may see yet another surge of cases which could have been avoided.

Richard Kong Sui Khian

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