Give us more details on contacts of Covid-19 cases

The announcement of Covid-19 cases by the health ministry is greatly different during the first wave of disease from January to early February, compared to the second wave beginning with case 26 in late February.

Previously, the manner and place of infection was clearly explained, as was the relationship between the different cases.

This way, the public was confident and reassured that the ministry was on top of the problem, doing its job well in containing the outbreak.

Now, we are just told the number of new cases, sometimes by the Prime Minister’s Office or a totally new health minister unaware of the previous situation.

We now do not know how and where the infection occurred, who the contacts might be and their relationship to foreign travel or to local cases.

Case 26 has rightly pointed out that being in a cluster is not the same as being the source of the infection.

This puts even more responsibility on the ministry to clarify how it thinks the second wave came about.

To make matters worse, all subsequent announcements on cases are totally devoid of essential information on contacts.

As a result, we have pictures of factory staff leaving the premises and piecemeal announcements from religious bodies of infection on their premises.

Workers and religious devotees in the country are as entitled to information and protection as the religious authorities or company managements.

Viral social media scaremongering is now proliferating.

It is highly important that as professionals, doctors and ministry staff work without fear of politicians, religious heads, business chiefs and VIPs.

The support and cooperation of the public is ultimately needed for infection control and social stability.

The public will be reassured with clear accurate information. They can easily see when political, religious or business interference is hindering safety.

For the good of the country, people and society, can the health ministry please go back to the way it presented cases in January, telling us where and how the disease was detected as well as the patients’ relationship to other cases or foreign travel?

This is a problem that can be overcome when the government allows competent transparent professionals to do their work, as China and South Korea have shown.

Dr Ong Hean Teik, a consultant cardiologist, is an FMT reader.

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.