Coronavirus Singapore

Map put up as people wanted to know which areas to avoid: Ong

The new map highlighting areas most frequented by Covid-19 patients was put up because many people wanted to know which places they should avoid, Health Minister Ong Ye Kung said.

But the decision to publish such data will be reviewed if needed, he added yesterday when asked if such a map was alarmist.

The map can help people regulate their activities as Singapore feels its way forward amid the wave of infections, Mr Ong explained, adding that many European cities publish similar maps.

''Let's give this initiative a try and we'll take feedback,'' he said. ''And if we need to adjust the practice, we will do so.''

The map, which shows places frequented by Covid-19 cases within the past three days, was published for the first time on Friday.

Uploaded on the Health Ministry's Covid-19 situation report portal, it breaks down Singapore's land area - including the southern islands - into 323 sub-zones.

These are highlighted in five different shades, according to the number of Covid-19 cases who had been in the area. The bands are for zero to 10 cases, 11 to 35 cases, 36 to 100 cases, 101 to 230 cases, and 231 to 560 cases.

As at last night, there were over 100 sub-zones with zero to 10 cases, and 12 sub-zones with between 231 and 560 cases.

Residential areas such as Jurong West Central, Sengkang Town Centre, Bedok North and Tampines East were among the places most visited by Covid-19 patients.

Districts such as the Central Water Catchment area and industrial zones such as Jurong Island, meanwhile, were mostly clear.

People who have recently visited the hot spots are advised to monitor their health, take regular antigen rapid tests over the next 10 days and minimise interactions with others.

Mr Ong was also asked how the map could help Singapore as it works towards treating the virus as endemic, and if it could have the unintended impact of causing fear among ordinary Singaporeans.

Some people commenting on the map online had asked for more granular information, while others had raised concerns that it may lead to crowding in areas with fewer infections.

The minister replied: ''We accept those reactions, and if we need to review, we will review the practice.''

He added that many Singaporeans had written in to ask for some indication of where Covid-19 patients had been to, so that they can use the information to ''regulate our own activities and our own movements''. Said Mr Ong: ''We think (it's) actually quite a civic-minded thing to do.''
 

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on October 03, 2021, with the headline 'Map put up as people wanted to know which areas to avoid: Ong'. Subscribe