By now, pretty much every household in Singapore’s gotten the free Oximeter booklet with the redemption details. Every house in Singapore’s going to be able to claim one oximeter. It’s a great thing that Temasek Foundation is doing but I have to wonder whether it’s going to do more harm than good.
My reason for that? The elderly.
I’ve just talked to both my mum and aunt and both asked me about the Oximeter. They wanted to know when they can go to the collection point to nab one (it’s July 5 – August 5) and also to know whether this device is the same as the COVID-19 self test kits on sale.
Therein lies my problem with the oximeter.
The elderly might not be aware that the oximeter isn’t a catch all COVID-19 detection kit.
It only detects your blood oxygen level. If your blood oxygen is low enough that you’re constantly out of breath, chances are you’re already heading for the doctor or the A&E. You don’t need the oximeter for validation.
If my aunt and mum, who are relatively tech savvy, are still confused enough about the oximeter, what about the thousands of other elderly out there?
Chances are a big number of them will be like my family.
Thinking the oximeter as a foolproof COVID-19 detector will inevitably lead to a false sense of security, which is tremendously dangerous. While breathlessness is a symptom of the disease, it’s not the only symptom. Even then, those infected with COVID-19 might not even be afflicted with this particular problem.
At the very least, I think the release of the oximeters is too rushed.
There should’ve been a campaign to educate the public of what it does and what it can’t do.
Thankfully, it’s not too late. Hopefully the government or Temasek Foundation can raise awareness of the capabilities oximeter as it gets distributed over the next month.
I don’t fault Temasek Foundation wanting to help out Singaporeans.
Hell, I wish more local companies would step up and do more to assist.
However, I can’t help think that the money used on these oximeters might have been better used…perhaps on better thermometers, or even a few samples of a COVID-19 self test kit for every home.