February 14, 2020

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COVID-19 interviews: Prof Paul Tambyah praised by netizens

Singapore — There has been much praise online of the interviews on the COVID-19 outbreak given by Professor Paul Tambyah, an infectious diseases expert who is also Chairman of the opposition Singapore Democratic Party.

The disease, which was first reported in Wuhan, has killed nearly 1,400 people in China and one each in the Philippines and Japan. It has infected about 65,000 people in China and other countries. In Singapore, 58 people are confirmed positive for the virus.

As early as Jan 24, Prof Tambyah was interviewed about the disease on Channel NewsAsia (CNA) and on Feb 3 he did a question-and-answer segment with The Straits Times.

On Feb 5, he co-authored a commentary on the virus, which was also featured on CNA.

Prof Tambyah is a Professor of Medicine and Senior Consultant Infectious Diseases Physician at the National University of Singapore, as well as the President of the Asia-Pacific Society of Clinical Microbiology and Infection.

His clear explanations, frank advice, calm demeanour and reassuring comments have been praised by netizens.

One of them, Mr Simon Lee, wrote a post on Facebook on Thursday (Feb 13) about Prof Tambyah, which has gone on to be shared over a hundred times.

“I was impressed watching Professor Paul Tambyah of the SDP sharing his professional knowledge about the COVID-19 on CNA.”

Mr Lee, commenting on the availability of masks, wrote: “One after another PAP ministers  assured the public that they have learned much from the Sars experiences, are better prepared this time around … I therefore would like to ask a very basic question here. Where are the masks for our people? If they have failed to stockpile sufficient masks for our population, just come clean…”

He also took exception to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong saying the current virus does not seem to be as deadly as Sars.

He wrote: “To-date, COVID-19 has killed more people in China than Sars did. In the words of World Health Organisation (WHO) chief, Mr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreysus, ‘we could only be seeing the tip of the iceberg‘. Also on the front page of today’s (Feb 13) Straits Times, WHO warned that this coronavirus epidemic posed a global threat potentially worse than terrorism. Need I say more?”

Netizens, like Mr Tan Soo Tiong, agreed with Mr Simon Lee.

Others picked up another point in the Facebook post, which noted that Prof Tambyah was Chairman of the opposition SDP and which stated that the People’s Action Party had, over the years, put down the opposition for lacking talent and ability.

Some netizens, however, pointed out that the advice of medical experts not to wear masks unless a person is ill is similar to what the authorities in Singapore have said and to what Prof Tambyah had said in the ST interview.


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Chee Soon Juan and Paul Tambyah remain at the helm of the SDP as election looms