Singapore battling 'smart' virus, say experts
They say virus exploits weak links and warn cases at dorms would remain high for a while
Coronavirus infections in Singapore crossed the 10,000-mark yesterday, as experts told The Straits Times that the numbers could potentially rise dramatically over the next few days, with the country locked in battle with a "smart" virus that is able to exploit any weak links in the system.
Yesterday marked the start of heightened "circuit breaker" measures that will last at least until May 4 to further curtail the spread of the virus.
Entry to four popular wet markets was restricted, based on the last digit of a shopper's NRIC number or Foreign Identification Number, leading to thinner crowds.
Experts at a panel hosted by The Straits Times warned of a tough slog ahead.
They said cases at foreign workers' dormitories would remain high for days to come, reflecting the "tremendous effort" directed at reinforcing this weak link.
An infected person living in a dense environment like a dorm could spread the virus to five to 10 others.
This means that there could be 4,000 to 5,000 new cases daily in four to five days and as many as 10,000 daily in 10 days' time, if no measures are taken to contain the virus, said Professor Teo Yik Ying, dean of the Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health at the National University of Singapore.
Prof Dale Fisher of the National University Hospital said that keeping thousands of workers at the 43 large purpose-built dorms in their rooms until transmission comes down was a major undertaking as it involved providing them food, Wi-Fi and on-site medical services.
He also said this was no ordinary virus that Singapore was battling. It was really smart and could home in on areas where there was high transmission.
This was echoed by Prof Leo Yee Sin, executive director of the National Centre for Infectious Diseases.
"This is a very smart virus, it will find ways to remain in the human population," he said.
"So it is not a simple virus for us to deal with. There is human-to-human transmission. It can transmit when we are not aware (of it)."