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MOH providing US disease control agency with testing data, after Singapore's Covid-19 level classified as 'unknown'

SINGAPORE — The United States (US) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) was not aware of Singapore’s Covid-19 surveillance testing numbers, which led the American public health agency to say that the coronavirus level here was “unknown”, Singapore's Health Minister Ong Ye Kung said.

SINGAPORE — The United States (US) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) was not aware of Singapore’s Covid-19 surveillance testing numbers, which led the American public health agency to say that the coronavirus level here was “unknown”, Singapore's Health Minister Ong Ye Kung said.

“The Ministry of Health is engaging the US Embassy as well as the CDC to provide them with the necessary data.

“Just to be clear, we know our situation very well,” Mr Ong said at a press conference by the national Covid-19 task force on Wednesday (Jan 5).

The US CDC had advised people against travelling to Singapore in an updated travel health notice on Tuesday. 

It said: "Because the current situation in Singapore is unknown, even fully vaccinated travellers may be at risk (of) getting and spreading Covid-19 variants. 

“If you must travel to Singapore, make sure you are fully vaccinated before travel." 

The CDC told news agency Bloomberg that the change stemmed from a lack of testing data that it used to get from data aggregator Our World in Data. That information has not been updated since Nov 8, the centre said. 

The CDC's website states that the agency uses Covid-19 data reported by the World Health Organization and other official sources to determine travel-health-notice levels.

"If a destination does not provide data, their travel-health-notice level is designated as 'unknown' and travellers are advised to follow travel-health-notice Level 4 recommendations." 

A Level 4 recommendation states that the Covid-19 risk is "very high" and Americans should avoid travel to these places. 

At the press conference on Wednesday, Mr Ong, who co-chairs the task force, said that Singapore administers more than 150,000 polymerase chain reaction Covid-19 swab tests every week. This works out to more than 21,000 such tests daily.

Positive rates for these tests are under 2 per cent, he added.

“We also have 145 wastewater-testing stations across the island. They are in housing estates, dormitories, nursing homes, et cetera. Only a very small handful are registering the presence of Covid-19 viral fragments.

“So we are sure that the incidence of Covid-19 in our community is currently low and stable.” 

He cautioned, though, that it would be “a matter of time” before the highly infectious Omicron variant of the coronavirus starts to multiply quickly in the community.

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Centers for Disease Control and Prevention United States MOH Ong Ye Kung travel Covid-19

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