Published: June 4, 2020 4:35:00 pm
Singapore will have to reimpose strict measures and slow down the pace of reopening as it faces the “real risk” of a resurgence in the number of COVID-19 cases or clusters if it resumes too many activities too quickly, country’s health minister told Parliament on Thursday.
On Tuesday, businesses that operate in settings with lower transmission risks were allowed to reopen, as the city-state entered its first phase of reopening after the “circuit breaker” period.
Phase 2 of the reopening could start before the end of June if the number of COVID-19 transmissions in the community remains low and stable. “Singapore faces a ‘real-risk’ of a resurgence in the number of COVID-19 cases or clusters if it resumes too many activities too quickly,” Gan Kim Yong said in Parliament.
He cautioned that if the numbers of infections are again on rise, Singapore will have to reimpose strict measures and slow down the pace of reopening.
Singapore has reported 36,922 cases of coronavirus with 24 deaths. On Thursday the nation reported 517 new cases of the highly contagious viral infection.
The nation’s majority of the cases are among the foreign workers staying in dormitories due to which more than 32,000 healthy foreign workers have moved into temporary accommodation in sports halls, vacant Housing Board blocks and army camps, Gan said.
He said as restrictions are eased and more activities are resumed, it becomes even “more critical” that people exercise strong social responsibility to ensure that community transmission remains low.
“Singapore will continue to adopt a more cautious approach for higher-risk activities, such as those involving large numbers of people in enclosed spaces for prolonged periods of time,” he said.
Minister of State for Manpower Zaqy Mohamad assured the house that those foreign workers who need medical care after they are relocated will be sent to medical posts, clinics or hospitals in the vicinity, depending on their condition.
Workers who are being tested for COVID-19 will be housed in a swab isolation facility until their test results are known. “If they are tested positive for COVID-19 then they will be transferred to the appropriate care facility,” Zaqy was quoted as saying by The Straits Times.
Singapore exited its circuit breaker period on June 1 and the COVID-19 measures will be progressively lifted in three phases, which started from June 2.
Gan stressed that Phase 1 is a safe opening period and therefore “very restrictive”.
“We are not prepared to open it up too early, too quickly because that in fact may result in more cases emerging and in turn will require us to reimpose some of the measures, and as a result, actually may defer and slow down Phase 2,” he said.
Gan acknowledged that the circuit breaker was a challenging two months. Overall, the circuit breaker was painful but necessary to slow the transmission in the community, the paper quoted the minister as saying.
We understand the anxiety that our people are facing, and are acutely aware of the economic and social impact of prolonged closure of various sectors. All of us want to get back to normal as soon as possible, and to be able to see our friends and families whom we have not seen for some time.”
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