Ho Ching debates with Calvin Cheng on whether MOH should continue to report unlinked Covid-19 cases

Ho suggested that unlinked cases should be reported until at least the end of year.

Zhangxin Zheng | September 09, 2021, 06:27 PM

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Temasek Holdings chief and wife of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Ho Ching, has weighed in on the changes made to the health ministry's reporting on daily Covid-19 situation in Singapore.

The Ministry of Health (MOH) made an announcement on the changes to the daily report on Sep. 8.

The new reports will no longer present the number of linked and unlinked cases, as this number is "no longer as relevant as before, given our current strategy of living with Covid-19", MOH stated.

Instead, the focus will be on the number of cases hospitalised with severe illness, and large emerging clusters.

Ho Ching: Unlinked cases should continue to be reported

In Facebook post on Sep. 9 Ho shared her view that the ministry should continue to provide a break down on the unlinked and linked local cases in Singapore.

This will give the public "a sense of the pipeline of potential new cases ahead" and "whether our contact tracing is keeping up", she said.

Ho suggested that unlinked cases should be reported until at least the end of year.

That's also nearer to the expected period for children below 12 to get their first vaccine jab and for the elderly to get their booster shot.

Debate over whether tracking unlinked cases is meaningful

In the comments section, Ho also sparred with former NMP Calvin Cheng regarding how unlinked cases should be viewed.

Ho said that unlinked cases are "nodes of community transmission" which can help Singapore government pace our reopening. It can also help us "tap the brakes if the speed is too fast", so our healthcare system is not overwhelmed.

Ho added that unlinked cases are cases that were not "ringfenced" before testing positive, and hence, pose a greater risk of transmission.

While the number of local cases is expected to rise, it is better if the growth can be slowed down as "a sizeable population" is still not vaccinated, she said in a reply to another Facebook user who had commented on her post.

However, Cheng argued that both linked and unlinked cases are "nodes of community transmission".

Citing the amount of resources needed in contact tracing as a factor, he suggested that the government should explore "less disruptive ways" to manage the Covid-19 cases moving forward.

Cheng said:

"Also as you have argued, linking cases is only a means to an end. That end if we do chase after every linked case, is to quarantine every linked case for 14 days. And as cases increase, the spider-web of first second third order linkages will increase. Are we going to lock up the entire spider web for 14 days? This would be extremely disruptive to daily life. And certainly not what living with the virus looks like.

We have to find less disruptive ways of controlling the R value."

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Top image via Temasek/Facebook and Calvin Cheng/Facebook