Singapore's tightened Covid-19 measures working, but not the time to relax: Lawrence Wong

SINGAPORE – The current tightened community measures are working and bearing fruit, but it is not the time to relax or let our guard down, said Finance Minister Lawrence Wong on Monday (May 31).

“As much as there is a chance of us relaxing some of the measures after June 13 if things continue to improve, we must also be mentally prepared that we cannot rule out the possibility of further restrictions down the road if they become necessary,” he said during a press conference.

The co-chair of the multi-ministry task force on Covid-19 stressed that the situation remains highly fluid, with the task force’s assessments updated on a daily basis.

“If all goes to plan, there may be a chance… for some adjustment and relaxation of measures (on June 13). It’s very unlikely on June 13 that we will go all the way back to phase three, we will have to do this gradually and in a controlled manner,” Mr Wong said.

But Singapore may have to accept additional restrictions if there are new risks or clusters emerging, or there are more unlinked cases, he said.

If all goes well, Singapore should be able to bring down community cases over time and break the transmission chain, but there are still unlinked cases popping up every day.

“Any one such case can easily be a superspreader and cause a major outbreak to happen,”Mr Wong cautioned.

In an update on the local virus situation, the task force said that the heightened measures under phase two (heightened alert), which are in place from May 16 to June 13, have considerably reduced social interactions and the risks of transmission while allowing most work and daily activities to carry on.

These tightened measures have helped to slow down the chains of Covid-19 transmission and reduce the number of unlinked cases in the community over the last two weeks, as well as facilitated the swift detection, isolation and ring-fencing of transmission chains.

Among measures which have been instituted for phase two (heightened alert) include the prohibition of dining in and limiting social gatherings to two people. Occupancy limits for malls and showrooms have also been reduced to 16 sq m per person.

Health Minister Ong Ye Kung also said there are a few encouraging signs of how Singapore is handling the current wave of infections.

About 70 per cent of all the linked new cases on Monday were due to household transmission, he pointed out.

In addition, those who were infected through community transmissions have had “quite mundane” movement patterns which mostly involve going to and from home, work and food-related errands.

“Other than the Jem-Westgate cluster, there were no major transmission settings over the last 10 days,” Mr Ong said, noting that Singapore is moving towards the right direction overall and is constantly improving its contact-tracing and quarantine protocols.

“But this wave of infection is not over, and we must continue to stay alert and vigilant in order to suppress it further,” he added.

The task force said it will continue to monitor the situation and provide updates on Singapore’s local situation and community measures when the need arises prior to June 13.

Read highlights from PM Lee’s speech and updates on Singapore’s Covid-19 situation from the multi-ministry task force here.

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