Mixed Messages

Since 19th Aug when we opened up a little more, allowing some workers back to office and eating out, the number of cases have been rising. After being conditioned to accept a zero target, of course many people are uncomfortable to see cases rising from tens a day to hundreds.

Cases rising coincided with opening up

We’ve been subject to a number of mixed messages, such as:

Be responsible and try to stay home for the next two weeks.

In other words, we’re opening up but try not to have more than one social gathering a day. But if you see people gathering out there, it’s perfectly allowed.

Cases are climbing, but the good news is the number of very sick ICU cases are stable and not increasing in numbers.

We will continue to monitor increasing number of cases and see if ICU numbers go up. If they don’t, we’ll continue opening up.

Hospitals have been asked to reduce non-urgent treatment.

Just in case we get it wrong and suddenly we need a lot of beds for Covid-19.

We expect more than a thousand cases per day in the next few weeks. But we should all be responsible so that we don’t get to three thousand cases per day.

This takes the cake. I don’t know if any country has managed to fine-tune Covid numbers like this.

We’re not rolling back our measures but we are pausing reopening.

Yep, in a nutshell. I just wish we had one good spokesperson who fully understands the science laying it out. The different ministers say it the way they understand it and sometimes it sounds stupid and contradictory.

Essential

Singapore’s TraceTogether App does everything needed for Covid-19. It captures anonymous bluetooth proximity records, displays personal vaccination records and registers SafeEntry check-ins. The personal token does this too but has no displays. Personal tokens must be exchanged when the battery runs out.

The smartphone has become so necessary, you can’t leave home without it, and it isn’t just because you need to make calls or be contacted.

One new feature is that phones now have wallets to make contactless payments, so you don’t need to use cash or physical cards to pay. You could tap a smartphone to get on a train or a bus, or buy a cup of coffee.

More incredibly, phones are now used to verify identities. For example, you need a phone for two-factor authentication to log into secure emails or bank accounts. In a related fashion, we use phone apps as loyalty cards to get store discounts. By showing the app, we indicate “this is my phone, this is your app, I’m a member.”

And we use our phones to read news, surf the Internet, check out driving directions, order food deliveries. I sometimes use my phone to make blog posts.

Covid-19 has made the phone quite essential everywhere you go in Singapore especially the TraceTogether App. To gain entry to places, it is mandatory to register by tapping your phone at SafeEntry gantries and be traced should one be a Covid case contact. The app bluetooth is on all the time to capture which other phones you have been in significant contact with, again for contact tracing purposes. You need a phone to show your vaccinated status before you can buy food to eat. Unvaccinated persons can still buy food to go or takeaway but cannot eat in public.

A special TraceTogether token does all the phone app functions but without the display. The tokens can be read by special readers.

So you can see it is all highly regulated, and Orwellian, since you are tracked everywhere you go.

The dependency on the smartphone means that if the battery runs out, one must go home.

Heavy Rain

Few days back we had severely wet weather. It rained in 3 hours more than the monthly average for the country, the headlines went. Canals flooded over and spilled onto roads.

Rather than getting angry at the government for failing to prevent floods, the people took it in stride, it seems to me. There were pictures of buses driving through floods and passengers lifting up their feet to avoid getting their ankles wet. There were news articles advising drivers against driving into floods. This is the new normal! Here’s what you do!

Perhaps we were “lucky” most commuters were still working from home. Plenty of videos taken from high rise apartments were posted online.

The new normal is not just living with Covid-19 but adjusting to global warming.