Singapore Democratic Party releases alternative plan to tackle Covid-19

Part of the Singapore Democratic Party's plan involves stopping the testing of asymptomatic individuals outside of contact tracing.
Part of the Singapore Democratic Party's plan involves stopping the testing of asymptomatic individuals outside of contact tracing.ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

SINGAPORE - The Singapore Democratic Party's (SDP's) healthcare advisory panel - which includes infectious diseases specialist Paul Tambyah - has come up with an alternative strategy to tackle the pandemic.

Part of its plan involves stopping the testing of asymptomatic individuals outside of contact tracing, so that Singapore's healthcare resources can be concentrated on those who need them most.

It is also proposing that the country do away with blanket closures and restrictions, instead shutting down only the physical buildings where outbreaks have occurred.

"The handling of the Covid-19 pandemic by the Government's multi-ministerial task force has been plagued with a distinct lack of coherence and direction," the opposition party said in a statement on its website on Tuesday (Sept 28).

"This has left Singaporeans confused and frustrated. The lack of a clear strategy... has also left businesses unable to plan ahead."

SDP's panel comprises a mixture of general practitioners and specialists.

The plan consists of eight points covering a range of topics, such as improved healthcare protocols for dealing with Covid-19 patients and more in-depth studies of vaccines and preventative medicines.

For instance, it suggested that a dedicated ambulance hotline be set up for people who have tested positive and may require urgent transport to the hospital.

It also proposed that Singapore conduct clinical trials on all Covid-19 vaccines approved by the World Health Organisation, as well as on potential preventative treatments such as povidone iodine and ivermectin.

"This will settle once and for all in a clear scientific manner many of the questions swirling around social media on alternatives to the current vaccination strategies," it said.

"We felt that we needed a sensible plan that actually showed a way out," said Professor Tambyah, who is SDP's chairman, in a question-and-answer session streamed live on Facebook on Tuesday.

Prof Tambyah was asked a variety of questions during the session, including what he thought of removing the mask requirement outdoors - a proposal that has been put forth by Workers' Party MP Jamus Lim.

Theoretically, the risk of virus particles staying in the air for a long time is lower outdoors, where more cross-ventilation takes place, he replied. Singapore also gets plenty of ultraviolet light, which is a very effective disinfectant, he said.

"But currently, the data is contradictory," said Prof Tambyah, adding that it would be worth carrying out a pilot scheme to study whether this theory would hold true in practice.