SINGAPORE - Jurong West Central, Aljunied, Bedok North, Tampines East, Sengkang Town Centre and Woodlands East are some areas that have been highlighted as places frequently visited by Covid-19 patients within the past three days.
The public can now access this information on a map, published for the first time on Friday (Oct 1).
Available on the Ministry of Health's Covid-19 situation report portal, the map breaks down Singapore's entire land area, including the southern islands, into subzones.
A check by The Straits Times showed that as at Thursday, 12 subzones have been visited frequently by between 230 and 560 Covid-19 cases over the past three days.
They are: Yunnan, Jurong West Central, Kian Teck and Jurong River area in the west; Aljunied, Geylang East, Bedok North and Tampines East in the east; Sengkang Town Centre in the north-east; and North Coast, Woodlands East and Senoko South in the north.
There are five bands in all, with areas grouped and shaded according to the number of Covid-19 cases that visited. The highest is between 230 and 560 cases.
The multi-ministry task force combating Covid-19 said last Friday that it hopes the map can help guide people on their movement and activities.
"Individuals who have been to these hot spots during the same timeframe are encouraged to monitor their health, perform regular antigen rapid test self-swabs throughout the 10 days following their potential exposure, and minimise any unnecessary interaction with others," the task force said then.
It added that SafeEntry and TraceTogether data would continue to be used to inform individuals of recent confirmed close contacts with infected people or recent exposure to an area of increased spread.
Professor Teo Yik Ying, dean of the National University of Singapore's Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health, said that the concentration of cases reflected by the map is not surprising, as he expects infections to be fairly common in satellite towns and residential estates, where many people are located and moving about.
However, he added that coupled with data showing the number of asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic cases in Singapore, the map shows that while the virus is widespread, many people are able to recover on their own without medical intervention.
Prof Teo said: "Moving forward, such maps may also be less relevant when Singapore pivots completely to endemic Covid-19, as the asymptomatic cases may not even realise they are infected."
Professor Paul Tambyah, president of the Asia-Pacific Society of Clinical Microbiology and Infection, said that whether or not people are living in areas that are highly frequented, they should seek medical attention and get tested if feeling unwell.
“But perhaps those who live and work in the high-incidence areas need to be extra alert,” he added.
Prof Tambyah also said that geospatial data has proven useful in understanding and managing the outbreak of other diseases like dengue fever and tuberculosis here.
He cited the identification of two genetically separate clusters of individuals diagnosed with tuberculosis linked to the Singapore Pools Bedok Betting Centre, which was announced in January this year.
Prof Tambyah suggested that some improvements could be made to MOH’s Covid-19 map.
For instance, he said that a data set dating back to between five and seven days could be used, instead of the current three days, to reflect the virus’ incubation period.
He added that it would also be useful for the map to include more specific data, such as household and workplace clusters, as well as malls and other public places, which he suggested could appear as pins on the map.
Mr Jeremy Toh, a Tampines East resident in his 20s, said that even before the map was published, he had been cautious, especially when visiting crowded places in the area.
"I tend to avoid crowded places as much as possible, and will continue to do so," said Mr Toh, who is vaccinated and works in business development.
Woodlands resident Thien Jun Tong, who lives beside a highly frequented zone, said that the map will not affect how he goes about his daily activities given the shift towards an endemic Covid-19 situation.
"I will still continue as I have been doing - working from home and going out for meals while taking the necessary precautions," aid the 27-year-old, who works in a technology firm.
He added that the map may be useful for those with lower immunity, like the elderly, who could check it before heading out to crowded places.