Screenshot of overcrowded Expo

In an interview with state media Straits Times, Singapore doctors warned that the coronavirus spread in the community is a lot higher than reported because sick people are avoiding medical help out of fear of quarantine.

The news came after a 13 year old student avoided seeing a doctor for 17 days despite running a fever. She finally saw a doctor on Saturday and tested positive for the coronavirus.

Dr Aziz Noordin, who practices at a clinic in Tampines, said patients are afraid of the “consequences” after testing positive:

“A possibility is that patients are afraid of the potential consequences of visiting a clinic while they have an acute respiratory infection (ARI). Many of his ARI patients told me they were hesitant to get checked up because they were worried about having to be tested for Covid-19. There’s always a question of what happens if I’m positive, what happens to my family, my kid.”

Another doctor, Quan Soon Wee, confirmed his patients expressed similar fears:

“They may be afraid to get swab tested, or of having to take five day’s medical leave.”

The doctors warned that a small cough may be a result of the COVID-19, and recommended people see a doctor to get tested immediately after exhibiting symptoms:

“The tricky thing about Covid is that a lot of patients present with very mild symptoms, so even a slight cough could be due to Covid. It’s hard for patients to tell on their own, so it’s recommended that they see us.”

Singapore is the biggest coronavirus country in Asia, with the highest infection rate per million according to the World Health Organisation. There are over 43,000 confirmed cases with hundreds of new cases still reported each day.