Are you wondering why returning Singaporeans, PRs now need to test negative for COVID-19? — Donch CB

Don’t yayah just bcos we have a red passport, ok?

Are you wondering why returning Singaporeans, PRs now need to test negative for COVID-19? — Donch CB

HO Ching also known as Madam Ho Ching is the wife of Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and chief executive officer of Temasek Holdings. As a common goal and strategy to reach our younger generation using Social Media, she wrote a very good post about the current COVID-19 situation in Singapore.

Good and clear to explain the situation:

As I am one of the returning Singaporeans in February 2021, I think it is important for everyone in the world to understand the stand of Singapore in welcoming home our Singaporeans living overseas before COVID-19.

What is R0?

Suppose the R0 or basic transmissivity is 2.

This means on average, each Covid case will infect 2 more people.

Instead, 1 case will multiply quickly and grow exponentially:

1 => 2 => 4 => 8 => 16 => 32

We know the virus last year multiplies by about 2.5~2.7 as its R0.

So if we take the upper end R0 of 3, the 1 case will on average multiply as follows:

1 => 3 => 9 => 27 => 81 => 243

What took 3 generations of transmission to reach 8 more cases, will take just 2 generations to reach 9 more cases.

Change of Rules

The only difference is that we require a clear PCR test before people board commercial flights.

Here is her post:

Post Wuhan, Sg has welcomed home all Singaporeans and PRs from various parts of the world, regardless of local prevalence.

Has it been like this all the time?

Not really. We had difficulty getting Singaporeans back from Wuhan for instance.

This was bcos China sealed Wuhan, regardless of nationality. In an outbreak of unknown risks, this was the responsible thing to do.

When Sg was able to mount evacuation flights, what did we do?

We tested everyone allowed to leave. Those who were ill with fever and such were not allowed to board.

Instead a separate flight was arranged as a medical flight.

For all flights, the crew were fully togged up in PPE. They were accompanied by MFA officials similarly togged up.

Why did we not allow sick ones on board the first return flights?

This is to protect the rest of the passengers and crew on board.

Instead a separate medical flight was arranged for the sick ones to also come home.

Some families had to make difficult choices.

For instance, PRs who were still Chinese nationals were not allowed to leave under China’s regulations prohibiting their nationals from travelling and leaving Wuhan.

So some families chose to stay together, while others chose to split in different ways.

Came March/April, when there was huge outbreak elsewhere in Europe/UK and USA, or indeed elsewhere, we welcomed citizens home.

We thought we could give our folks better care at home should hospital facilities be overwhelmed abroad. This was indeed what happened in many places.

Despite this, not all chose to come home. Many chose to stay put.

Among the reasons was the fear of catching the virus aboard a long flight with others.


It’s been a year since.

We have had requirements for non Singaporeans to be tested before their departure flights to Singapore.

Yet, we have not had the requirement to test Singaporeans.


The reason is that we were still committed to bringing Singaporeans home if they chose to come home.

However, this is with an understanding that we were taking a risk with the rest of the passengers.

True, Singaporeans regardless of anybpre-departure flights would still go through testing on arrival.

They also go through to SHN or quarantine in various facilities for varying periods depending on the risk prevalence of the departure city or country. This is no different from other non Singaporeans.

After all, the virus is blind to the colour of our passport or the colour of our skin. Or our faith or education level.

But we still have a big loophole of risk.

We could take that risk, when then infectivity of the virus was low.

However, we should think of the virus this year almost like another emerging new virus.

Its infectivity is twice that of last year.

That doesn’t mean the number of cases in each generation is just twice that of the infection transmission last year.

The explosiveness is much more, bcos the transmission risk is exponential.

Suppose the R0 or basic transmissivity is 2.

This means on average, each Covid case will infect 2 more people.

Those 2 from one Covid index case will each infect an average of 2 more, so we have 4 cases by the 2nd generation.

It is not simply adding 2 more each generation, but multiplying by 2 for each generation.

It is not a 1, 2, 3, 4 linear growth, nor a 2, 4, 6, 8, 10 linear growth of cases.

Instead, 1 case will multiply quickly and grow exponentially:

1 => 2 => 4 => 8 => 16 => 32

We know the virus last year multiplies by about 2.5~2.7 as its R0.

So if we take the upper end R0 of 3, the 1 case will on average multiply as follows:

1 => 3 => 9 => 27 => 81 => 243

What took 3 generations of transmission to reach 8 more cases, will take just 2 generations to reach 9 more cases.

But this year, we are seeing a doubling of transmissivity.

The Brazilian P.1 and the Indian B.1.617.2 appear to be more infectious, followed by the South African B.1.351, followed by the UK B.1.1.7.

All of these are replacing the old doggy variants of last year, which had in turn replaced the Wuhan variant by May/June last year.

And what is their potential R0?

It is about 4~6, potentially more.

But let’s look at R0 of 6.

The 1 case will explode exponentially as follows:

1 => 6 => 36 => 216 => 1,296 => 7,776

In 3 generations of transmission, it will create 216 new cases.

This is more than the 8 or 17 new cases if R0 were 2 or 3 respectively.

This means the risk of transmission is much much higher.

In one chartered flight to HK, all passengers were tested negative before departure, but some 50% were tested positive upon arrival.

Was this infection during the flight or during the period between the PCR pre-departure flight and the flight, or was is simply differences in the quality of PCR tests? Or all of the above?

Whatever it is, we know that the transmissivity is much higher.

It would be irresponsible if we do not require all passengers to be tested before their flights, regardless of nationality.

So sorry, folks – our red passport is not a vaccination against infection after all.

So anyone coming into Sg, must go through the pre-departure test for the sake of their fellow passengers.

Those who are tested Covid positive and still wish to return home are still welcomed.

They would however need to organise a medical flight.

And if the numbers are large enough, we can also organise a chartered flight, like what was done during the initial outbreak.

In any case, unlike the early days, we have been requiring all arrivals since sometime 2nd half last year to pay for their tests, SHN/quarantine lodgings, and hospitalisation if any.

Likewise for Singaporeans and others who leave after late March last year, their hospitalisation and care will no longer be free if they had come back with Covid.

This is bcos everyone is expected to already know the risks of infection, and shoukd calculate their risks in their decision to leave Singapore.

This is unlike the free care and hospitalisation should returned be tested positive for those coming back for the first time when there were huge outbreaks in China, UK/Europe, USA and elsewhere in the first half of last year.

Long story, but Singov has a larger responsibility to mitigate clear and present dangers.

Singov still welcomes home Singaporeans as before.

The only difference is that we require a clear PCR test before people board commercial flights.

For Covid positive cases, the option is to return via medical flights.

And if the group is large enough, there is the possibility of organising a chartered medical flight.

As with all flights, these are also subject to the departing country’s regulations.

India, for instance, has banned all international passenger flights since last March.

Likewise, China had initially banned all international flights, and only started re-opening with highly restrictive testing and quarantine requirements since middle or late last year.

These requirements have since tightened with the emergence of new more infectious variants or concern or VOCs.

For instance, the earlier quarantine requirements of 14 days last year got lengthened to 21 days this year.

So each country makes its own judgement on their risk appetite and their local prevalence.

For instance, a high prevalence country could be open to others easily bcos the inbound arrivals from low prevalence areas do not increase their risks.

The converse is not true.

Sg will need to do more, and yet do less.

With highly transmissible VOCs, we must test more faster and cast our net wider to prevent the risk of a huge explosion that can overwhelm our hospitals and frontliners.

However, we now have various tools including vaccinations, that would enable us to open smartly and yet contain the risk.

The key is to vaccinate as many people as quickly as possible.

We have been constrained by vaccine delivery and have already made an adjustment to stretch dosing intervals from 3-4 weeks, to 6-8 weeks.

This would enable us to vaccinate as many people as possible within the constraints of our supply.

We expect vaccine delivery to begin to loosen up.

Already, in the USA, vaccine delivery has slowed a little bcos the vaccination demand has fallen sharply.

Both USA and EU expect to have all their orders delivered before end July, enough to cover their entire population.

So vaccinate when we are offered, folks.

Don’t wait.

Despite the small outbreak relative to many countries, we are already seeing deaths among our infected elderly who have not been vaccinated.

Several others are requiring oxygen supplements.

Fortunately, so far, among the infected cases who have been vaccinated, none have required oxygen so far.

So young ones overseas or even locally who are jumping up and down about the new requirement for pre-departure tests before boarding the plane to come home, think of the risks you may bring to the rest of the passengers and crew, and think of the old ones and the vulnerable among us.

We can get through this together if we both take care of ourselves and take care of others at the same time.


IF SHE STAYS PILOT: Scratch Mark 11/6/21


                      Written by

                      Zannnie BL


                    January 11, 2020
          1 INT. DARK STAGE - NIGHT 1
                          OPENING CREDITS:
           A SPOTLIGHT slices black space.
           In its beam, an OLD MAN materializes. He is tanned-skinned.

           Fragile and wrinkled.
           The feeble man shuffles slowly, with characteristically noble wrinkles, a wry smile on his face.
           He pauses, his face grows worried. Sensing someone watching.
           Scared, he tilts his head and peers into the darkness. He nudges his granddaughter Søren to come and assist him.
           Then, a PETITE WOMAN emerges out of the darkness behind him.
           She stumbles backwards, irritated.
           He tries to quicken his steps, but failed. Her posture faces the audience.
           She flings her open hand towards him, pointing at him.
           He wants to shout, but nothing comes out. He looks at his body, sensing something happening to him. Something terrifying.
           COTTAGE HOUSE.
           CUT TO BLACK.
          2 INT. SøREN'S BEDROOM - MORNING 2
           In the darkness, a pair of EYES. They belong to SøREN, the same middle aged woman. She lies awake in bed, thinking about her strange dream.
           The room looks like it hasn't been redecorated since she was a teenager. Stuffed papers and crafting materials. Cardboards, cold-pressed watercoloring papers.
           The door opens, throwing LIGHT on her face. SøREN looks towards the door and smiles softly at whoever opened it.
           SøREN sits up and hangs her BARE FEET off the side of the bed.

           Her feet are covered in corns, broken blisters and bunions, from the marathon run. 

          3 INT. LIVING ROOM - MORNING 3
           The room is empty of furniture to leave space for exercising. A large mirror covers the opposite wall entirely. And a 75cm yoga ball.
           SøREN bends her knees to get them moving, and then begins her morning routine, stepping on the cold wooden flooring.
           SøREN looks composed as she moves, completely in her element.
           She hears someone fussing about in the kitchen.
                          (WHILE TURNING)
           I had the most spine-chilling dream last
           night. I was chased by a Grey German Shepherd dog.
           No answer.
                          SøREN (CONT'D)
           Different background, like the midnight. 
           Still no answer.
           SøREN continues to and turn on the tap water, filling in a kettle.
          4 INT. KITCHEN - MORNING 4
           SøREN sits at the table. An older woman, ANNABELLE, places a POACHED EGG and a QUARTER-GRAPEFRUIT in front of her.
           You're in a foul mood.
           I'm just exhausted to wake up like this.
           Such dreams always makes you grumpy.
                          (RE: GRAPEFRUIT)
           Look how pink. So pretty.
                          ANNABELLE SøREN
           (inside joke) (inside joke)
          Pretty. Pretty.
          They giggle and Annabelle resumes packing SøREN's shoulder bag with extra clothing, shoes, snack filled tupperware, duct tape, ribbon, thread, etc.
                          SøREN (CONT'D)
           Plus grandpa promised to call me today.
           He certainly should. You're his only kin.
          SøREN smiles, comforted, and begins taking her vitamins.
          Annabelle walks over with a CROP TOP and holds it above her.

          SøREN pulls it over her head and starts to push her arms through the sleeves.
                          ANNABELLE (CONT'D)
                          (NOTICING SOMETHING)
           What's that?
           Annabelle points to her left knee cap. SøREN feels and finds a small SCRATCH MARK.
           She shrugs and shakes her head.
           Annabelle gives her a suspicious look, but lets it go and smiles.

           SøREN finishes pulling down the crop top.
           Annabelle hugs SøREN into her chest and kisses the top of her head.
                          ANNABELLE (CONT'D)
           Sweet girl.
           Annabelle releases her and SøREN begins eating.
          5 INT. TRAM - DAY 5
           Soren rides inside a crowded tram, staring absentmindedly at her faint reflection in the tram's window.

Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

I am thinking of adding a character called ‘Moriaty’ and that I would like to expand on it, so this is my first attempt, what do you think? How will the mystery continue?

Pandemic Gear: Smart Mask

This “NinjaDays Project” pandemic gear describes masked developed with sensors to track vital signs like heart rate and body temperature in real time, making it possible to turn any mask into a smart mask that can detect the symptoms of COVID-19. Mechanomaterials science and engineering, sense digitalization, flexible electronics technology, cyber-human interfaces, and materials for energy storage.

smartmasks, pandemicgear, trackvitalsigns

NinjaDays Project

Iconography is a visual language used to represent features, functionality, or content. Icons are meant to be simple, visual elements that are recognized and understood immediately. … Users of a particular platform are typically already accustomed to and understand these standard icons. This “NinjaDays Project” describes the new normal which is not normal. Useful icons related to our how there are still many uncertainties to contend with in the next few years, while sharing the author’s hopes about how the future can be “reset” once the pandemic is over.

I started this project series with the beaker use in science. Beaker icon vector beaker, science, science test tube, lab flask icon, chemical tube icon, test tube beaker, icon lab, solvent vector, beaker vector and inspired by the perception of the field of science and mental health which have been supercharged – all these started ever since the first genome sequence of the novel coronavirus surfaced in February 2020.

I invested my time to create these related icons because, I feel strongly the importance of images as an effective form of storytelling. Even more so if the story is complicated, scientific visuals are definitely essential for communicating experimental results, for analysing the data and future discoveries. Today I was surprised by one of my Pure Biology classmates from my Secondary school who contacted me. She’s now a researcher and happened so that we are working in the same field now but of a different laboratory. Our scope is also different as she has been in the field for more than 19 years. How strange to know that after a big circle, here we are in the bio-medical field. Can’t wait for the current lockdown with heightened alert measures to be lifted by 13 June 2021. I am beginning to miss traveling, but surely aviation sector worldwide would not recover until 2023 (earliest).

beaker i convector beaker, science science test tube, lab flask icon, chemical tube icon, test tube beaker, icon lab, solvent vector, beaker vector

Ninja Days

Being back to Singapore after 14 years living in Europe has been really an amazing experience.

So raising my child was quite challenging. Partly we didn’t speak the local language. We were fortunate to have good friends and nice European colleagues and superior. Adapting to the climate was one of the challenges – it can be very dark and cold. The warmest month (with the highest average high temperature) is July (21.8°C). The month with the lowest average high temperature is February (-1.6°C). The month with the highest average low temperature is July (12.7°C). The coldest month (with the lowest average low temperature) is February (-7°C).

Some exceptions do happen 🙂 The day when we left for Singapore, it was snowing at -21°C. I must add that it was totally beautiful! Arriving in Singapore, it was warm and tropical year-round. Singapore is situated near the equator and has a typically tropical climate, with abundant rainfall, high and uniform temperatures, and high humidity all year round. Many of its climate variables, such as temperature and relative humidity, do not show large month-to-month variation.

One of the best things about living in Singapore is the great food and being very near to my friends and aunts. It is so much easier to get things done (in Singapore, a lot of reliance on delivery which serves as a convenience and time savings). What people are afraid of, is no money. Majority of the population is time poor. So, if there is a way to place an order online, most people would do so to save precious time. I think the heat makes people think twice about going out and about, besides the present pandemic restrictions on social distancing measures.

Lion’s Share from Public Funding

According to data from the Knowledge Portal on Innovation and Access to Medicines, $5.9 billion in R&D investment was tracked up to March 2021, 98.1 percent of which was from public funding.

The United States and Germany are the top sources for R&D investment, putting some $2 billion and $1.5 billion into development, respectively. The United Kingdom comes third on the funding list with just over $500 million while the EU has invested around $327 million. Even though the lion’s share of investment in the U.S. used public funding, some $2.17 billion, at least $62 million of philanthropy dollars have also been donated.

The Oslo Opera House (Norwegian: Operahuset)

The Oslo Opera House (Norwegian: Operahuset) is the home of The Norwegian National Opera and Ballet, and the national opera theatre in Norway. The building is situated in the Bjørvika neighborhood of central Oslo, at the head of the Oslofjord. It is operated by Statsbygg, the government agency which manages property for the Norwegian government. The structure contains 1,100 rooms in a total area of 38,500 m2 (414,000 sq ft). The main auditorium seats 1,364 and two other performance spaces can seat 200 and 400. The main stage is 16 m (52 ft) wide and 40 m (130 ft) deep. The angled exterior surfaces of the building are covered with marble from Carrara, Italy and white granite and make it appear to rise from the water. It is the largest cultural building constructed in Norway since Nidarosdomen was completed circa 1300.