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Singapore is very proud of its reputation for technocratic excellence. In recent months, government officials have tried to tackle the country’s most pressing question — how to live with COVID-19 — by scrutinizing, modeling and projecting data, as if staring hard enough at those little gray-rimmed boxes on Excel would produce the answer.

The trouble with this strategy is that living with COVID-19 is messy, and the data will never look good. Countries that have been praised for the most meticulous of approaches to the outbreak have stumbled time and again. Ultimately, treating the coronavirus as endemic will require Singapore to do something it may find unnatural: think beyond the numbers.

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