Coronavirus: See a doctor even if it is just a sniffle, advises Lawrence Wong

Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong said people should not take the enhanced testing and contact-tracing capabilities for granted and assume that the system can catch every case.
PHOTO: Ministry of Communications and Information

Despite having enhanced testing and tracing capabilities, the authorities have urged the public not to let their guard down and called on everyone to stay vigilant and take all necessary precautions.

These include going to see a doctor as soon as one presents any symptom, even if it is just a sniffle, said National Development Minister Lawrence Wong, who co-chairs the multi-ministry task force tackling Covid-19.

This is more crucial than ever as the risk of transmission is much higher now than during the circuit breaker period when contact with other people had been minimal, he added at a press conference yesterday. "During the circuit breaker... the risk of spreading to many people was very low (as) you're just at home," he said.

But if people were to avoid seeing a doctor even when they feel feverish or have a flu-like symptom, or worse still, go about their daily activities and meet other people, then the risk of spreading Covid-19 increases, he added.

Since the beginning of this month, all patients aged 13 and older who show up at clinics with signs of acute respiratory infection have been required to be tested for the coronavirus.

To verify that one is free of the virus is much safer than not knowing one could have it and then potentially infecting others, said Mr Wong.

"If you have elderly people in the same household, I think the consequences of infecting someone senior in the home can be lethal and dangerous," he added.

He said this after detailing the new normal that involves more aggressive testing and casting a wider net around each confirmed case to identify every close contact.

Still, people should not take these enhanced testing and contact-tracing capabilities for granted and assume that the system can catch every case.

"We shouldn't push the system to its limits or take unnecessary risks. So, while we have indeed enhanced our system... it requires everyone to do his part, take all the necessary precautions to stay vigilant and uphold the social distancing measures," said Mr Wong.

Health Minister Gan Kim Yong, who co-chairs the task force, said at the same press conference that even though the recent increase in confirmed cases is not unexpected, the country is only in the early stage of phase two of the economy reopening, which means the risk of community spread remains.

He said: "So, let us remain vigilant, don't let our guard down, be careful and practise safe distancing and obey the spirit of the rules, but not just the words, the letter of the rule. I think this will help us to keep ourselves safe and to keep our loved ones safe as well."

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This article was first published in The Straits Times. Permission required for reproduction.