When news of the new Stay-Home Notices was announced yesterday, a few new countries were mentioned.
All countries in ASEAN, and Switzerland and the UK.
Suffice to say, if we were to speculate from the move, we’d think that there must have been many COVID-19 cases in Switzerland and the UK, right?
However, the US has even more cases, at 3,782 during time of writing, and it’s not included as one of the countries that require people who’ve been there in the last 14 days to be issued an SHN.
So what’s so special about Switzerland and the UK?
In fact, National Development Minister Lawrence Wong said this: “One concern we have with cases such as UK and Switzerland isn’t just about the numbers. It is that these countries have abandoned any measure to contain or restrain the virus.”
Here, take a look at how he said that:
Now, what’s with the UK & Switzerland, and have they really abandoned the fight against COVID-19?
Well, read on.
The Reason Why S’pore Says UK & Switzerland Have ‘Abandoned Any Measure’ for COVID-19
This might sound hard to believe, but yes: our minister has come to that conclusion based on public statements from the two developed countries.
It’s ironic because the WHO HQ is located in Switzerland.
So, what’s happening?
Let’s start with Switzerland.
The country has reported its first case in 25 February 2020, but it was only in March that the number of cases spiked drastically; as of time of writing, it has reported 2,217 cases, with a whopping 842 cases announced yesterday.
It’s doing what other countries are doing: banning events that have more than 1,000 people, closing schools and partially closing its borders.
So why is it “abandoning any measure”?
Well, you see, their approach is no longer to track every single case, and then contact trace that case until siao like what Singapore’s doing.
Instead, the country’s goal is to protect “the health of particularly vulnerable people… The aim is to prevent serious illnesses and deaths as well as avoiding overloading health facilities.”
The vulnerable people are people “over 65 and those suffering from medical conditions such as diabetes, cancer or who have weakened immune systems.”
This because most COVID-19 patients have mild symptoms (some even didn’t have any symptoms at all).
They would, according to swissinfo.ch, be “gradually changing the reporting system and no longer trace every Covid-19 case systematically.”
Now, how about the UK?
The UK: Herd Immunity
Now, that’s even something more chim.
Despite having 1,391 confirmed cases in the UK, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has largely kept Britain open because they are allegedly using the “herd immunity” solution.
But what is a herd immunity solution?
Simple: let people contract the virus and build immunity to it.
In other words, it’s a move to consider it as a seasonal flu; you don’t contact trace and isolate everyone who’s the flu, right?
WHO director-general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus is, however, not happy with that solution. He said, “The idea that countries should shift from containment to mitigation is wrong and dangerous.”
Reasons for Their Approach
Now, if you’ve understood everything, you’d know why Singapore dared to say that Switzerland and the UK has effectively “abandoned measures” to contain the virus: they’re not going to actively find COVID-19 patients and isolate them, but instead, opt to treat the virus like chickenpox: let our immunity fight it instead.
That might sound crazy, but did you know that that was how H1N1, and many other diseases, “ended”?
H1N1 wasn’t contained; instead, people developed an immunity to it. Chickenpox, obviously, wasn’t contained; it became so widespread, the question a doctor asked when a patient has chickenpox is this: “Anyone in your household hasn’t had built an immunity to chickenpox?”
In other words, like it or not, there is a possibility that the UK and Switzerland, both wealthy regions, are merely thinking ahead.
But of course, whether they’re right or not is another question altogether.
In the meantime, Singapore’s still working hard to contain the virus.