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Why Singapore's COVID death rate is world's lowest

Singapore, the city state of 5.7 million people has seemingly weathered the COVID-19 storm better than anywhere else in the world, with a death rate of only 0.05% - way lower than the global average of about 3% -- even among countries of similar size like Denmark and Finland.

It means that of the 57,000 infections there's only been 27 deaths in Singapore.

But how has the island managed such a feat?

Singapore's leading disease experts said there's a number of factors behind the country's success.

First: Singapore was very successful in containing the spread of the virus through early detection using aggressive contact tracing and testing that won praise from the WHO.

It has tested nearly 900,000 people - one of the highest per capita rates globally.

Dormitory residents have been put on a rostered testing regime, authorities have undertaken mass testing among vulnerable communities including care homes, and anyone over 13 with signs of acute respiratory infection is offered a free test.

This pre-emptive approach has also been applied to treatment.

Doctors said that COVID-19 patients above 45 years or with underlying conditions are cared for in hospital even if they are otherwise well.

It also built up bed space for coronavirus patients in exhibition halls and temporary facilities to house those with mild or no symptoms.

This prevented the healthcare system from being overwhelmed so that attention and resources could be focused on the more severe cases.

It's difficult to compare across borders, though. Singapore strictly adheres to the WHO's case definition for classifying COVID-19 deaths.

So it does not include non-pneumonia fatalities like those caused by blood or heart issues among COVID-19 patients in its official tally.

The country's health ministry has said its approach is consistent with international practice.