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The “COVID-19: Updates from Singapore” weekly webinar series is a forum for leading clinicians, scientists, public health officials and policy makers to share insights into their field of study. The fifth webinar session was held on Thursday, 7 May 2020.

This week’s invited guest, Vice-Dean of Research and Domain Leader of Biostatistics and Modelling at the NUS Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health, Associate Professor Alex Cook, took a mathematic perspective to the COVID-19 pandemic, having been working closely with Singapore’s Ministry of Health on analytics for the outbreak. In the course of his work on infectious disease modelling in statistics, including dengue and other respiratory pathogens, Assoc Prof Cook advises on how population modelling is able to predict the course of the pandemic, for more effective control strategy and planning to bring down transmission rates and prevent a second wave of infections.

In his talk titled Modelling the COVID-19 Outbreak in Singapore: Science Fact or Science Fiction!, Assoc Prof Cook explained mathematical modelling, its role in the area of public health and how mathematics plays an equally pertinent role in formulating pandemic policies to fight transmission. Assoc Prof Cook introduced the basic reproduction number, a fundamental quantity of mathematical epidemiology which indicates how transmissible the virus is. Using mathematical modelling in the form of graphs, he demonstrated the different scenarios that could take place depending on which policies are to be adopted after the circuit breaker measures are lifted.

Assoc Prof Cook cautioned against any hasty decisions in the lifting of safe distancing measures as it might cause another peak in infections, alongside a would-be extension of the circuit breaker.

Tune in here for the full session of the webinar.

WATCH: COVID-19 Updates from Singapore: Webinar 5 | Assoc Prof Alex Cook

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