US CDC cautions against travel to Singapore in ‘bizarre’ move

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday urged Americans to keep away from touring to Singapore completely, reclassifying its Covid-19 advisory for the city-state and saying the state of affairs there may be now “unknown.”

The change stems from an absence of testing information that the CDC used to get from information aggregator Our World in Data. That data hasn’t been up to date since November 8, the CDC mentioned in an electronic mail to Bloomberg.

The designation got here as a shock in Singapore, which maintains far stricter testing and social distancing measures than in the US, and the place the city-state’s Ministry of Health posts detailed virus statistics, in English, on its website every single day.

“I do think it’s bizarre,” mentioned Ooi Eng Eong, a professor of rising infectious ailments at Duke-NUS Medical School, including that Singapore exams a lot that “we know more than what most people look for.”

“Clearly some are more comprehensive than others, and I would think that Singapore is among those that are extremely comprehensive in our surveillance,” mentioned Ooi.

Singapore, which was beforehand categorized underneath the CDC’s highest Covid-19 danger degree, has seen native instances fall from greater than 4 000 a day in late October to lower than 400 a day now.

The city-state has resisted closing its borders once more amid a surge of imported omicron instances which have arrived from the U.S. and Europe, the place the variant is widespread.

Singapore’s hospitalizations stay low, with extra intensive care unit beds obtainable than in use. The nation can be bolstered by one of many highest vaccination charges in the world – 87% of the overall inhabitants are totally inoculated and greater than 40% have gotten their booster pictures.

Yet for the CDC, Singapore is now positioned in the identical classification class as Afghanistan, North Korea and Syria, in addition to microstates in the Pacific that don’t have the infrastructure for advanced information reporting.

CDC mentioned in a press release to Bloomberg that it evaluates major standards together with cumulative new case counts and case trajectory data supplied straight by well being ministries to the World Health Organization.

Secondary standards information, corresponding to exams carried out per capita and test-to-case ratio, are obtained from locations like Our World in Data and ministry of well being web sites. It’s measured over a 28-day interval and reviewed each day.

In a statement on its website, CDC mentioned that “if a destination does not provide data, their THN level is designated as ‘unknown’ and travelers are advised to follow THN Level 4 recommendations,” which is to keep away from travel there completely.

“Because the current situation in Singapore is unknown, even fully vaccinated travelers may be at risk for getting and spreading Covid-19 variants,” the CDC mentioned.

The US company has reversed errant designations earlier than. In September, the CDC mistakenly flagged Hong Kong as a rising danger for Covid, regardless of minimal instances there on the time. It later revised the designation down to its lowest danger degree.

Singapore reported a complete of 842 new Covid-19 instances as of midday on January 4. Of these, 334 had been in the neighborhood, 6 had been in overseas employee dormitories, and 502 had been imported.

(With help from Kyunghee Park and Low De Wei)

© 2022 Bloomberg

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