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SDP presents 8-point plan to 'exit’ COVID-19 pandemic, calling for different approach to testing

 SDP presents 8-point plan to 'exit’ COVID-19 pandemic, calling for different approach to testing

FILE PHOTO: A healthcare worker takes a nose swab for an attendee's coronavirus disease (COVID-19) antigen rapid test at Marina Bay Sands Convention Centre in Singapore January 25, 2021. Picture taken January 25, 2021. REUTERS/Edgar Su/File Photo

SINGAPORE: The Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) on Tuesday (Sep 28) proposed eight strategies to “exit” the COVID-19 pandemic, saying the Government's handling of the situation has been "plagued with a distinct lack of coherence and direction".

Suggestions were made on having different approaches to testing, publishing reports on clusters and implementing restrictions. 

They were drawn up by the opposition party’s healthcare panel, which is made up of 10 members including infectious diseases expert Paul Tambyah, president of the Asia Pacific Society of Clinical Microbiology and Infection.

Other members include psychiatrist Dr Ang Yong Guan, general practitioners Dr Tan Lip Hong, Dr Toh Beng Chye and Dr Leong Yan Hoi, as well as general surgeon Dr Cheng Shin Chuen.

One of their suggestions is to stop testing vaccinated people who are asymptomatic, in instances outside of contact tracing.

“This will help ensure that resources are concentrated on those who need them most – the elderly and vulnerable who are actually infected,” the SDP said in its plan, which is published on the party's website.

The panel also said those who test positive for COVID-19 should report to the nearest Public Health Preparedness Clinic where general practitioners will decide if they need hospitalisation or simply be monitored, similar to what is done with other conditions like urinary tract infection or food poisoning.

"GPs should be appropriately compensated for the care they provide," said the panel.

NURSING HOME CASES, REPORTS ON CLUSTERS

To relieve the strain on hospitals, the panel suggested having nursing homes keep "stable" COVID-19 patients in their facilities but segregated from those who are not infected. GPs will check on them to decide on when hospitalisation is needed, said the panel.

It added that the authorities should set up a dedicated ambulance hotline for those who have tested positive or are identified as contacts so that they can be taken to the hospital quickly if their pulse oximeter readings show evidence of low oxygen concentrations.

This is similar to what was done during the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) period, SDP said.

Authorities should publish regular reports on positive tests and all clusters, like the dengue cluster reports, so the public can seek medical attention if they develop symptoms after visiting those areas, said the panel.

TARGETED INTERVENTIONS

The panel also proposed "targeted” interventions.

“Do away with blanket closures and restrictions. Instead, implement interventions that are targeted like with food poisoning outbreaks or hand, foot and mouth disease outbreaks in childcare centres,” the SDP said

This would involve shutting the physical building or facility where an outbreak occurred.

The SDP said Singapore's "lack of a clear strategy" in dealing with the pandemic has left businesses unable to plan ahead.

The “reactive nature” of the Government’s approach in dealing with outbreaks has led to "stop-start, on-again, off-again policies which had adversely impacted both employers and employees", it added.

In its final suggestion, the panel suggested conducting “rapid adaptive design randomised clinical trials” on all WHO-approved vaccines so they can be studied for use as boosters or primary doses.

“These vaccines should be commissioned and funded rapidly. The same should be done for other preventative agents which have shown promise in earlier randomised trials,” the panel said.

The proposed measures will provide society with a “more reliable and predictable way of handling the pandemic”, the SDP said.

“They will build confidence as we go forward in dealing with a virus that is here to stay. Singapore must deal with the pandemic in a steady and intelligent manner that brings hope and security,” it added.

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Source: CNA/ja(gs)

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