The headline “MOH flags concern over unlinked COVID-19 cases” may sound rather ominous, but MOH’s announcement of its “ongoing surveillance programme, where a small sample of patients at our primary care facilities are tested for COVID-19 infections” is an encouraging development. MOH added that they have “picked up some cases through these tests, which is an indication of undetected cases in the community.”
MOH did not elaborate on how this “small sample” of patients is selected. However, it is likely that not all of them present the typical Covid-19 symptoms and risk factors, but they were still tested as part of this programme. As I had explained in my posts last week and and this week (links below), it is important that the pool of patients tested for Covid-19 is widened beyond the symptomatic. This is because up to 70% of those infected with the disease may be asymptomatic. They could end up being “silent spreaders”, which not only infect others but also make contact tracing extremely difficult.
The only way to identify more of these undetected cases in the community is to do more community testing. This allows the authorities to isolate more positive cases and staunch the spread.