Published On: Sun, Oct 24th, 2021

lee: Singapore cannot simply let go and let things rip, as PM Lee rules out indefinite lockdown

SINGAPORE: Singapore cannot go into an indefinite lockdown and stand still, but also cannot “simply let go and let things rip”, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has said, as the city state sought to overcome the negative impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We have to travel this road to get to living safely with Covid-19. We want to get there with as few casualties as possible,” Lee said in a Facebook post on Saturday.
Singapore’s multi-ministry task force announced on Saturday a slew of measures for the effective opening up of the affluent city-state.
These include requiring vaccination for all staff returning to the workplace from Jan 1, 2022, as well as adding China’s Sinovac to the national vaccination programme and expanding the home recovery scheme to certain pregnant women, The Straits Times newspaper reported.
The task force is co-chaired by Trade and Industry Minister Gan Kim Yong, Finance Minister Lawrence Wong and Health Minister Ong Ye Kung.
In his post, Lee highlighted the weekly infection growth rate — the ratio of community cases in the past week over the week before.
Two weeks ago, this figure was 1.5, meaning that cases were doubling roughly every fortnight.
It now stands at 1.15, meaning that cases are growing 15 per cent each week. This works out to case numbers doubling about every month.
If the ratio drops below one and Singapore’s hospital and intensive care unit situations remain stable, some measures can be eased, Lee said.
“Many of you have written to express your frustrations about the restrictions, while others have voiced concerns that we are opening up too fast!” he noted.
“I fully understand how you feel. It has been a long journey, and the continuing uncertainty and disruption is hard on all of us.”
Certain sectors, such as the food and beverage industry, have had an exceptionally tough time, the Prime Minister explained.
Singapore’s economy grew at 6.5 per cent year-on-year in the third quarter of 2021, estimates from the Ministry of Trade and Industry said on October 14.
This was a slowdown from the 15.2 per cent year-on-year growth in the previous quarter, as the economy continues to feel the strain from the Covid-19 pandemic.
On a quarter-on-quarter seasonally adjusted basis, Singapore’s GDP grew by 0.8 per cent in the third quarter, after a 1.4 per cent contraction in the previous three months.
Apart from the tourism sector getting hit, construction, marine and offshore engineering were also severely affected due to manpower shortages due to the outbreak of infections among foreign workers, especially those living in dormitories, the Ministry of Trade and Industry had said.
Going forward, Lee urged everyone to continue doing their part and exercise social responsibility as Singapore works towards living safely with the virus.
This includes taking vaccinations or booster doses when offered, as they reduce an individual’s chances of getting seriously ill, he said.
“Let’s continue to stay safe and keep working together,” Lee added.
The Health Ministry reported 3,598 new Covid-19 cases on Saturday, which includes 790 from migrant workers’ dormitories, and six deaths from complications due to the virus.
Three hundred people have died from coronavirus linked complications while 169,261 infections have been reported since the virus broke here last year.

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