Importing COVID-19 at what cost?

Robin Low
3 min readMay 1, 2021

We do not have much data or understanding in Singapore about the virus, but international sites record such data. One of these sites is GISAID.

Remember the UK strain, South African strain, Brazil strain which caused many countries to ban planes from these countries?

Yes, we have them in Singapore.

In the past 4 weeks,

UK Strain — 53 cases

South Africa Strain — 62 cases

Brazilian Strain — 3 cases

North American Strain — 0 cases

India Strain — 104 cases

We constantly see new cases getting imported every day, but we seldom know where the virus came from and how our vaccinations can stand up to it.

I feel that, when a country is one of the most infected countries in the world, or when there is a new strain developed as a result of some mass gathering, then it is a good idea to ban all flights from that country until things have stabilized.

Despite petitions to call upon the government to stop the import, our borders are still open. And recently, with India becoming the most infected country in the world, the government stopped non-Singaporeans or non-Singapore-PR from entering Singapore.

What have these policies gained us? Are we better off than HK or Taiwan? This week, the last week of April, we start to see more community cases, and even doctors and nurses who are fully vaccinated are getting infected — YES, in their FULL PPE suits while working, and still infected.

And they go home and infect their families as well. So, are we risking the lives of the citizens when we continue to import these cases?

I’m sure people in India want to come to Singapore for medical tourism as we still have medical facilities, or do we? (Surge in A&E patients at SGH and Sengkang General Hospital, SKH wards operating at full capacity)

In the middle of a pandemic, I do feel that the right thing to do is to travel less. I’ve already caved in and subscribed to Netflix and decided to write more fiction novels, and go out less. Like everyone else, I’ve not traveled and long to meet my friends overseas, but the situation is critical now. The world is getting vaccinated, and can’t we wait and see how the vaccination would work before resuming travel?

Why are countries risking the lives of citizens by allowing people to travel, and people from highly infected areas to enter the country. Is this what we call “Gratitude” to our healthcare workers?

Singapore did well, then forgot about the foreign workers and many got infected. We have since done better. Why the hurry to import more cases? Are the hospitals underutilized?

What is the cost of closing our borders to the more infectious strains like Brazil, the UK, South Africa, and India?

Robin Low

Author, Traveler, Innovator. Focuses on Social Impact and Innovation.