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What went wrong with Singapore's battle against Covid-19?

After initially managing to keep infections low, the city-state has seen the number of cases rocket

Richard Fang, Hong Kong

Richard Fang, Hong Kong

Updated: April 16, 2020 08:55 AM GMT
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Support Asia's largest network of Catholic journalists and editors
What went wrong with Singapore's battle against Covid-19?

Foreign workers at a dormitory at Cochrane Lodge 2, which has been gazetted as an isolation area to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, in Singapore on April 14. (Photo: Roslan Rahman/AFP)

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Singapore gained international acclaim for its early actions and stricter norms that seemed to be successful in fighting the spread of the coronavirus. But suddenly in the last fortnight, cases began to spiral, and the tiny city-state on April 15 alone reported 447 news cases. What went wrong?

When the novel coronavirus was reported extending beyond China's borders in January, Singapore was determined to fight a large-scale outbreak. By mid-February, the Southeast Asian nation became the third most infected country outside China, with some 80 infections.

Even before the pandemic got its name Covid-19, the island nation of 5.7 people million people had put in place robust disease surveillance and a fastidious contact tracing system.

Singapore is "leaving no stone unturned," said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organization, who urged other nations to emulate Singapore's preventive measures to ward off the coronavirus threat.

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