There are many things you can describe as “unknown”, including the true birthplace of Mark Zuckerberg and what McNuggets are made of.
But surprisingly, the US used this tag recently to describe Singapore’s COVID-19 situation when reclassifying its COVID-19 travel advisory.
“Because the current situation in Singapore is unknown, even fully vaccinated travellers may be at risk for getting and spreading COVID-19 variants,” the United States Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said.
In response, the Singapore gahmen basically said: “Eh, what talking you?”, which has prompted the US government to change its mind.
US Says They’ll Be Updating the Travel Health Notice for S’pore Accordingly
The CDC is now working with Singapore’s Ministry of Health (MOH) to gather more of the latter’s COVID-19 testing data.
It will then update its Travel Health Notice for Singapore accordingly.
The reason Singapore got the “unknown” label was the supposed lack of data about its COVID-19 tests here.
In determining its health advisories for travel abroad, the CDC uses COVID-19 data reported by the World Health Organisation and other official sources.
And if a country or region does not provide such data, its Travel Health Notice (THN) level will be designated as “unknown”.
A country with a THN Level designated as “unknown” is treated the same as a country with a THN Level 4, which is reserved for regions with very high infections.
Americans are advised to avoid travelling to these countries. The CDC even warned that “even fully vaccinated travellers may be at risk for getting and spreading COVID-19 variants”.
Other countries with this designation include North Korea, Afghanistan, and Syria.
2% of COVID-19 Tests in Singapore Come Back Positive
According to Health Minister Ong Ye Kung, around 150,000 PCR tests are administered every week, amounting to around 21,000 tests a day.
And just 2% of them come back positive.
What’s more, the authorities have placed 145 wastewater testing stations across the country, at housing estates, dormitories, and nursing homes. And the presence of COVID-19 viral fragments has only been found in a few testing stations, suggesting low community spread.
Health Minister: “We Know Our Situation Very Well”
One can see how difficult it was for the CDC to get the necessary data, what with the arduous task of googling “Singapore health ministry” and scrolling the ministry’s website.
This is why officials in Singapore were surprised by the “unknown” designation, more so because we have implemented COVID-19 restrictions that are far stricter than those in the US.
This prompted Mr Ong to say: “Just to be clear, we know our situation very well,” presumably before dropping the mic and putting on sunglasses.
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