SINGAPORE: Infectious diseases expert Professor Paul Tambyah said on Sunday (Jul 5) that he has the “greatest respect" for healthcare workers who have helped keep Singapore safe during the COVID-19 pandemic, and looks forward to Singapore’s report on the outbreak after the General Election.
The Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) chairman was responding to comments from Mr Lawrence Wong, co-chair of a multi-ministry task force set up to handle the pandemic.
Mr Wong, at a press conference earlier in the day, had rebutted criticism from Prof Tambyah on the handling of the outbreak, saying that he was "politicking and undermining the work of everyone on the frontline".
READ: GE2020: SDP made 'false and baseless allegations' on Government’s handling of COVID-19, says Lawrence Wong
“I have the greatest respect for the doctors, nurses and allied health professionals who have helped keep Singapore safe and our age-standardised mortality rate from COVID disease comparable to some of the most medically advanced countries in the world,” Prof Tambyah said in response to queries from CNA.
“The saddest thing about this epidemic in Singapore is how some of the most vulnerable individuals – migrant workers living in crowded dormitories who were among the major victims of the measles outbreak of 2019 - were again most affected by this novel coronavirus,” he said.
READ: GE2020: Focus on public health could have been lost in March amid talk of early election, suggests SDP's Paul Tambyah
Prof Tambyah said that he has "no doubt" Singapore will put together a comprehensive review of the country’s public health response to COVID-19 after the General Election.
After the last General Election in 2015, the Ministry of Health commissioned an independent review committee report into the Hepatitis C outbreak at Singapore General Hospital, said Prof Tambyah.
The report is “still a textbook of how to do an outbreak investigation,” said Prof Tambyah, adding that he has used it to teach about outbreak investigation all over the world.
“I look forward to the report concerning COVID-19 in Singapore after the elections. I am sure it will be equally educational if not more so,” he said.
During the press conference, Mr Wong - who is a People’s Action Party (PAP) candidate for Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC in the General Election - had said in response to a question that the work of the task force continues during the campaigning period.
“Whatever spare time on top of that work, that's where I come in to the ground to meet my residents," he said at the press conference.
Prof Tambyah in his response to CNA said he would like to thank Mr Wong “for his reassurance that he is not going to campaign in Marsiling-Yew Tee but rather concentrate on the rising number of unlinked and local community cases of COVID-19 outside the dormitories as well as the potential environmental cluster in Tampines”.
Prof Tambyah said that his fellow SDP candidates who are contesting Mr Wong's team would be "even more pleased to hear this".
"But all Singaporeans should be reassured by this promise,” he said.