Till the end of March, the world was marvelling at the success of Singapore for having controlled the spread of the pandemic. Its lockdown was not as severe as India, and yet with a combination of sanitising, social distancing, movement restrictions, testing and tracing protocols, it had managed to keep its numbers relatively low. It was flattening the curve. Even its schools and colleges were running.
Then over the month of April, its numbers went up from around 1,000 to 15,000 and by the third week of May it has doubled further to 30,000. Singapore’s population is about 5.6 million, so if the same infection rate would have happened in India, we would have 70 lakh virus positive patients. Today we barely have 1.2 lakh.
But this is not about trumpeting our record. India needs to scale up its testing in any case. What is remarkable that even with relatively strict protocols, Singapore numbers have skyrocketed. Unlike countries of the West, Singaporeans do not mind strict controls, and curtailment of their personal liberties, if it is for their own safety, health or national interest. It is also one of the world’s richest countries in terms of per capita income, and has a world class health care system and infrastructure. And yet the infection numbers have risen so dramatically? Why?