On the COVID-19 Front Lines in Singapore

Poh Lian Lim’91

Poh Lian Lim, a 1991 graduate, directs the High Level Isolation Unit of the National Centre for Infectious Diseases and is a senior consultant in the Communicable Disease Division of the Ministry of Health in Singapore. During this year’s COVID-19 outbreak, she has been involved in direct patient care and the development of clinical, research, and public health protocols.

She also was in Singapore during the SARS outbreak. "In 2003, I had just moved from Seattle to Singapore as a young infectious disease attending physician. I was diagnosing SARS cases and managing critically ill cases in the ICU at Tan Tock Seng Hospital, which was Ground Zero for the outbreak. Because we were caught in the first wave, we had no diagnostic testing for the first six to eight weeks. We had to make decisions about whether someone had SARS based on the clinical presentation and the epidemiologic risk factors. When you discover a new pathogen or virus in an outbreak, it is a bit like an astronomer discovering a new black hole, star, or planet; there is so much to discover about the new virus, but you don’t have the luxury of time—or complete facts."

Alumni writer Julia Hickey interviewed Dr. Lim about Singapore’s response to the new coronavirus and her advice for physicians. Read the full Q&A—and all other COVID-19 news articles—in the CUIMC Newsroom.