New Covid-19 outbreak in Singapore? How do the current daily figures compare with other developed nations?

Witnessing endless complaints on the internet, I think we need to set the record straight by looking at detailed data. How is Singapore doing this month? As you would expect, actually...

Judging by the headlines, social media reactions and comments on the internet, one would think the world is crashing down in the small city-state of Singapore. After a few clusters of a few dozen Covid-19 cases were discovered in the previous days, government cautiously reintroduced some restrictions on gatherings and operations of indoor gyms & fitness clubs - and yet no matter what it does, it seems it's always bad, bad, bad.

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Everybody seems to be an expert in running the country in the midst of the worst pandemic in a century 🙄

I typically ignore occasional nincompoops who are always active online, but we're seeing hundreds if not thousands commenting in the same fashion. And this is the, so-called, "internet generation". Really? What does the future hold if so many people are this ignorant? Is there a sane, silent majority out there? I sure hope so, otherwise we're all screwed (not only in SG).

So, however hopeless this effort may be, let's look at the facts & figures, eh...

In the past week Singapore registered approximately 4.5 Covid-19 cases per 1 million inhabitants per day. This includes all of the imported cases, that form the majority of that average figure. It's higher than Taiwan, Australia or New Zealand (all sub 1 case per million) - but they are all far more isolated than Singapore is, as they are neither major transit hubs nor have a large migrant population in the workforce.

For comparison, in January and February, Singapore airport handled 265,000 passengers vs. 118,000 international passengers traveling through ALL Australian airports. In March alone the city-state saw 166,000 passing through Changi Airport (data for Australia is not available yet).

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Even with all the latest clusters - discovered after a sweeping testing campaign last week - PLUS all of the imported cases, the average daily case count in Singapore is in the single digits per one million inhabitants.

Here's how it compares vs. other developed nations, across the same period of time (daily average over the past 7 days, by May 3, 2021):

  • 4.49: Singapore

  • 8.48: Israel (after the world's largest vaccination campaign).

  • 12.18: South Korea

  • 31.45: UK (a major European success story)

  • 42.61: Japan

  • 73.52: Norway (another rich nation of 5 million people - and lots of space)

  • 96.19: Malaysia (yes, over 20 times more)

  • 131.80: Denmark (another one with ca. 5 million people)

  • 149.91: USA

  • 163.94: Poland (hello everyone)

  • 188.78: UAE (despite a massive vaccination campaign)

  • 200.22: Switzerland (anybody wants to talk about "Swiss living standards" again?)

  • 214.04: Germany

  • 318.80: France

  • 425.67: Netherlands

  • 498.78: Sweden

So, daily count is around 2 times more in the world's most vaccinated nation of Israel, 30 times more in the US, nearly 50 times more in Switzerland or Germany, to over 100 times more in Sweden, than in Singapore.

Come on, how can anybody seriously complain about the situation in the city-state?

Don't forget that Singapore depends on imports for virtually EVERYTHING. It means that it cannot rely on local resources, local food, local products, fuels etc. - because it has few or none. It doesn't have sweeping grazing grounds for farms herding cattle, or vineyards and orchards like Australia or New Zealand do. It has a limited manufacturing base that cannot provide most of the products it needs too.

Most of the stuff you buy in the shops has to arrive on ships, planes or trucks from neighboring Malaysia (20 times more cases per capita right now - every single day).

Singaporean government has a Herculean task of managing incoming, outgoing and transiting cargo traffic, with thousands of people involved in the process - while keeping everybody safe from the virus. On top of that the country has to rely on nearly 2 million immigrants employed in many critical - often mundane but essential - jobs in the economy: sweeping streets, building your new HDBs or handling cargo in the port.

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Local borders have de facto been closed to all visitors for over a year now. Only citizens, permanent residents and approved work pass holders can enter the city. Some exemptions were also granted to close family members of citizens and PRs, to allow visits - also under tightly controlled conditions, PCR testing and mandatory quarantine.

Next time you want to judge Singapore's accomplishments in fighting Covid-19, please keep in mind ALL of those moving parts that have to be managed on a day to day basis not only to protect lives but your livelihoods as well.

Because Singapore - as an small city-state on an island - relies on trade so much, it is one of the places most exposed to the pandemic risk in the entire world. And yet it has managed to stay one of the safest.

Appreciate that.

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