SINGAPORE - More people will die if those here continue to flout the circuit breaker measures intended to counter the coronavirus, said the National Centre for Infectious Diseases' (NCID) clinical director Shawn Vasoo on Monday (April 13).
His comments come about a week into the stringent safe distancing measures, which include staying home unless leaving for essential purposes, a ban on dining-in at eateries, and keeping at least 1m apart from others when exercising and in queues.
Despite this, there have been numerous reports of those who continue to ignore the restrictions, exercising in groups, queuing too closely to others, gathering with people outside their household, and crowding parks and park connectors.
As of noon on Sunday, there were more than 2,500 cases of Covid-19 infection here, eight of whom had died.
Dr Vasoo said that people are not taking the pandemic seriously enough, and appealed to them to be more socially responsible.
"The attitude of some members of the public is lackadaisical. More people are going to die, and unfortunately this includes more Singaporeans too if they do not adhere to the circuit breaker," he said.
His call was echoed by NCID's executive director Leo Yee Sin, who acknowledged that being responsible - which means staying home, not going visiting, and avoiding older family members - might include sacrificing some freedom.
However, she explained that Covid-19 is a challenging disease to tackle for three reasons.
First, it manifests itself as an innocuous and mild illness, which is coupled with a high virus secretion at its onset.
"This causes infected individuals to misjudge the seriousness of their illness, and (to) have a tendency to continue routine activities without realising the danger of spreading the infection," said Prof Leo.
Second, the evidence increasingly suggests that the virus can be transmitted by people before they notice that they have symptoms.
Third, as Sars-CoV2, the virus which causes Covid-19, is a novel pathogen, the whole of Singapore is susceptible to it.
"Anyone of us can be infected and, if we are not careful, can serve as a transmitter passing on the virus to others. When that happens, those most at risk are the people close to us such as family members, colleagues and close friends," said Prof Leo.
Dr Vasoo called for people to stay at home, and wear a mask when they leave for essential work and are unable to avoid close contact with others.
He also urged members of the public to learn how to use reusable masks properly in order to provide "some basic protection" for themselves.
This means cleaning and drying the mask when it gets moist, as its filtration efficacy drops when it is in this condition, and learning how to take it off properly without contaminating one's hands.
"Please exercise social and moral responsibility... this not the time to hang out and congregate with others," he added.
This article was first published in The Straits Times. Permission required for reproduction.
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