• Vol. 49 No. 10, 764–778
  • 01 October 2020

Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19): The Singapore Experience. A Review of the First Eight Months



As of 27 October 2020, there have been 57,980 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Singapore, with 28 fatalities. To summarise the Singapore experience in managing and containing COVID-19 based on available published data and from relevant sources, a review of literature using research databases such as PubMed and OVID Medline, along with non-peer-reviewed articles and other sources, was conducted with the search terms ‘COVID-19’ and ‘Singapore’. Research conducted in Singapore has provided insight into the clinical manifestations and period of infectivity of COVID-19, demonstrated evidence of pre-symptomatic transmission, linked infection clusters using serological tools, and highlighted aspects of hospital-based environmental contamination. It has also provided guidance for diagnostic testing and has described immune and virologic correlates with disease severity. Evidence of effectiveness of containment measures such as early border control, rigorous contact training, and calibrated social distancing measures have also been demonstrated. Singapore’s multipronged strategy has been largely successful at containing COVID-19 and minimising fatalities, but the risk of re-emergence is high.

Singapore reported its first imported case of COVID-19 on 23 January 20201 and its first COVID-19 deaths on 21 March 2020.2 The WHO declared COVID-19 to be a pandemic on 11 March 2020;3 as of 27 October 2020, there have been more than 42 million confirmed cases and 1.1 million deaths across 200 countries and territories.

We reviewed the peer-reviewed literature using PubMed and Ovid MEDLINE, and search terms ‘COVID-19’ and ‘Singapore’. We also reviewed published data and policy documents from government-based resources and media releases.

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