The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday urged Americans to completely avoid traveling to Singapore, reclassification his advisor to Covid-19 for the city-state and says the situation there is now “unknown”.
The change stems from a lack of testing data that the CDC used to obtain from the data aggregator Our World in Data. That information has not been updated since November 8, the CDC said in an e-mail to Bloomberg.
The label was a surprise in Singapore, which maintains far stricter testing and social distancing measures than in the US, and where the city-state health ministry publishes detailed virus statistics, in English, on its website every day.
“I think it’s bizarre,” said Ooi Eng Eong, a professor of new infectious diseases at Duke-UX Medical School, adding that Singapore is testing so much that “we know more than most people ask.”
“It is clear that some are more comprehensive than others, and I think Singapore is among those that are extremely comprehensive in our supervision,” Ooi said.
In Singapore, which was previously classified under the highest risk level of Covid-19 CDC, there has been a drop in local cases from more than 4,000 a day in late October to less than 400 a day.
The city-state has resisted closing its borders amid a flurry of imported omicron cases arriving from the U.S. and Europe, where the variant is widespread.
Hospitalization in Singapore remains low, with more beds in intensive care units than used. The country is also supported by one of the highest vaccination rates in the world – 87% of the total population has been fully vaccinated and more than 40% have received supplementary vaccines.
However, for the CDC, Singapore is now placed in the same classification category as Afghanistan, North Korea and Syria, as well as micro-states in the Pacific that do not have the infrastructure to report complex data.
In a statement to Bloomberg, the CDC said it was assessing primary criteria including the cumulative number of new cases and information on the trajectory of cases provided by health ministries directly to the World Health Organization.
Data on secondary criteria, such as per capita tests and the ratio of tests to cases, are obtained from sites such as Our World in Data and the Ministry of Health. It is measured over a period of 28 days and is examined daily.
U statement on its website, The CDC said that “if the destination does not provide data, their THN level is marked as ‘unknown’ and passengers are advised to follow THN level 4 recommendations,” which means they completely avoid traveling there.
“Since the current situation in Singapore is unknown, even fully vaccinated passengers may be at risk of getting wider variants of Covid-19,” the CDC said.
The U.S. agency has previously overturned the wrong labels. In September, the CDC erroneously identified Hong Kong as a growing risk for Covid, despite the minimal number of cases there at the time. He later revised the label to its lowest level of risk.
Singapore reported a total of 842 new Covid-19 cases by noon on January 4. Of these, 334 were in the community, 6 in the homes of foreign workers, and 502 were imported.
(With the help of Kyunghee Park i Low De Wei)
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