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Cautious approach necessary when easing circuit breaker: Gan Kim Yong

This is so that big clusters do not form again, says Health Minister

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Singapore — As the end of the draws near, a “cautious” approach is necessary when easing measures requiring people to stay home as far as possible, said Minister of Health on Friday (May 15).

In a press conference of the multi-ministry task force on , of which he is co-chairman, Mr Gan emphasised the need for circuit breaker measures to be eased “carefully and slowly”, so that Singapore does not “have big clusters forming again”.

“We do expect that as you open up more, as some of the circuit breaker measures are rolled back or relaxed, we will likely to see number of cases in the community go up,” Mr Gan said.

The Health Minister reminded people to “bear in mind” that the reason community cases are low is “primarily because of the circuit breaker measures that we have put in place”. The rules have dictated that most people work from home and leave home only to do  essential things, like buying food and medicine.

“We have actually moved a lot of the working environment to home-based telecommuting, and we have actually stopped the bulk of the construction work in Singapore,” Mr Gan noted, citing reasons the circuit breaker has been effective at slowing down the transmission chain of community cases in the country.

However, the minister warned that people have to be “very careful” when circuit breaker restrictions are lifted and they return to their regular activities.

“Because if we are not careful, the number of cases will spike up, and you may have big clusters forming again,” he warned.

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Mr Gan underlined the need for a “cautious” approach to easing back circuit breaker measures, saying that things have to be done “step by step”.

“We hope that if we do it carefully and do it right, the number, even as it goes up, it will continue to go up slowly, and it will continue to remain under control and we will be able to step up our contact tracing, our quarantine efforts to minimise the risk of transmission in the community, and minimise the risk of large clusters being formed,” said Mr Gan.

The multi-ministry task force, which is co-chaired by National Development Minister Lawrence Wong, will be keeping a close eye on the situation as circuit breaker measures are eased.

Should there be a sudden increase in cases and should a large cluster of infections emerge, the task force will not hesitate to reinstate some circuit breaker restrictions, in order to “suppress the number of cases” in Singapore.

The Director of Medical Services, Associate Professor Kenneth Mak, also spoke at the conference, noting that it will be crucial for the task force to observe the situation on the ground and study community cases closely — how many there are and how they are connected or not connected.

A/Prof Mak noted that the responsibility of being cautious and careful is “all contingent really on us continuing to do our bit”.

Each Singaporean needs to do their part “not go out unnecessarily, not to mix and have too much close contact”, said  A/Prof Mak, adding that “the social interactions have to change”.

Social interactions, he said, are the “at-risk activities” which could “potentially lead to clusters forming”. /TISG

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