Photo of Gan Kim Yong from The Straits Times

Having being embarrassed by the government cover up of 4 months since having knowledge of the virus outbreak in June, Health Minister Gan Kim Yong mounted a weak defence by harping on political rhetorics yesterday (Oct 9):

“If there are gaps, we will close them. If there are weak areas, we will correct them. And if there are shortcomings, we will improve. It is important that we remain transparent. We will share the findings of the Review Committee when it is ready.”

Minister Gan Kim Yong however did not explain on whether if the cover up is due to the September General Elections, or how is he going to take responsibility for the fatalities. The Minister has just been newly elected and in another democratic country, the government cover up may amount to election fraud as the election could have resulted otherwise should the public knew about the virus outbreak.

The Health Minister also offered a timeline to defend himself from the cover up:

“• Apr: 1st case diagnosed
– HCV incubation period : 2 weeks to 6 months
– HCV carriage up to 20 years before symptoms

• May : Renal doctors noted increase in frequency
– Heightened awareness – More HCV RNA tests done
– Reinforcement of Infection Control

• June: Infection control team activated
– Renal ward stopped use of multi-dose vial (Jun 9)
– Stopped use of multi-dose vial in all wards (Jun 24)

• July: Phylogenetic tests carried out for the first time in SGH lab
– Tests were done in 3 batches, as cases surfaced
– Some past Hep C positive cases were also tested as control group
– Results for first 21 cases came out over period of Jul 6 to Aug 21
– Evidence that this is a Cluster of cases

• Aug: Internal review by SGH senior clinicians
• Late Aug: Informed MOH of the cluster

• Sep 3: Director of Medical Services (DMS) recommends further investigation and verification

• Oct 6: SGH makes public the cluster of infections
– MOH announces the independent review committee”

Due to the government cover up of the Hepatitis C virus outbreak which saw 8 deaths so far in a renal ward, the Singapore General Hospital (SGH), Health Minister Gan Kim Yong and state media Channel News Asia (CNA) are on overdrive gear to recover public confidence lost.

Through the state media CNA reporter Justin Ong, a headline article titled ” was dedicated to explaining the safety measures of SGH’s practices and with videos and photos of demonstrations on dummies. You may view the articles here, here and here.

Singapore’s state media is ranked 153rd in press accuracy. The owner of two only legal media conglomerates Singapore Press Holdings and Mediacorp is Temasek Holdings, which is headed by the wife of the Prime Minister.