Local transmission not widespread community spread as source of infection is known: Expert
While four of the latest cases of the coronavirus infection are the first instances of community transmission here, they are not cases of widespread community transmission.
Explaining the distinction yesterday, Professor Tan Chorh Chuan, chief health scientist at the Ministry of Health, said an important difference is that the Singapore authorities have been able to identify the source of the infections and establish a clear chain of transmission.
"What this means is that we are able to contain the infection and to take steps to prevent transmission to a wider number of individuals in the community," he said.
"This is quite different from widespread transmission where we are unable to identify where individuals who are infected caught the infections from."
Citing the severe acute respiratory syndrome epidemic in 2003, he said the Singapore authorities were able to contain the infection by identifying clusters of infected cases and ring-fencing them to prevent widespread transmission.
In a case of widespread community transmission, the source of infections cannot be identified, so there could be undetected ways in which transmission occurs, Prof Tan said.
"We don't see this right now, but it is something we have to watch out very carefully for," he added.
"In the meantime, it is very important for us to work on these clusters as we find them and to ring-fence them... (and) to actively look for other clusters so that we can take timely action when we find them." - DAVID SUN