Prime Minister Lee to update Singaporeans on tackling COVID-19

·3-min read

Singapore, May 30 (PTI) Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said on Sunday he will share his government’s plan on how to combat the COVID-19 pandemic while slowly reopening the country for business in a speech to be broadcast on Monday.

The prime minister said the COVID-19 restrictions were working and the government was taking strict measures to keep Singaporeans safe from the deadly virus.

'Thank you for staying home and complying with the guidelines,' said Lee while announcing his address to the nation in a Facebook post on Sunday.

'The number of new community cases has stabilised over the last two weeks. Our tightened measures to keep Singaporeans safe are working. Tomorrow, I intend to share with you how we plan to keep COVID-19 under control, while progressively opening up again. The solution: testing, contact tracing, and vaccinating,all faster, and more. Also: What will the new normal be like?' he said.

The prime minister's post came amid a spike in the number of coronavirus cases in recent weeks, which has since stabilised, The Straits Times reported on Sunday.

The rise in cases saw the government impose its strictest curbs on social gatherings and public activities since last year’s circuit breaker period.

Dining in at restaurants and hawker centres is no longer allowed and gatherings have to be limited to two people, among other measures in place under the current phase two (heightened alert). Employers are also required to make working from home a default arrangement.

The restrictions, in place since May 16, will be in force until at least June 13. This period of heightened alert was sparked by a growing peak of infections that have been fuelled partly by more contagious variants of coronavirus.

Before the recent spike, Singapore recorded few to no locally transmitted COVID-19 infections for months. But cases started to rise in late April, with rapidly growing clusters emerging in places such as Tan Tock Seng Hospital and Changi Airport, underlining how easily the virus can re-surge.

On Sunday, the Health Ministry reported 25 new COVID-19 cases, comprising19 cases that were locally transmitted and six which were imported.

This takes Singapore's overall COVID-19 tally to 62,028. Laboratories in Singapore are operating at over 80 per cent capacity to meet the recent demand for polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests amid a surge in COVID-19 testing.

The worsening of the COVID-19 situation came as Singapore was gearing up to open up its economy even more and host events such as the yearly Shangri-La Dialogue, defence and security summit, in June and the World Economic Forum in August. Both events have since been cancelled.

Singapore has also withdrawn as host for two AFC (Asian Football Confederation) Cup group football games and a travel bubble with Hong Kong has been postponed.

Last Friday, the government announced Singapore dollars 800million package to help companies and individuals tide over this period,including enhanced wage subsidies under the Jobs Support Scheme and rental relief.

Finance Minister Lawrence Wong, who is co-chair of the multi-ministry task force on COVID-19, said the recent restrictions had proved effective in controlling the spread of the virus, and that he did not expect new restrictions to be introduced. PTI GS MRJ MRJ

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