He acknowledged that while the number of new community cases has gone down “significantly”, the virus has not been yet been eradicated, and when countries have returned to normalcy “precipitously”, a surge in cases have resulted. But when countries have eased restrictions slowly, fewer rebound cases have occurred.
And should phase 1 of the reopening, which begins next Tuesday (June 2) go well, “then we will move to the next phase around the end of June, and resume more activities then”.
Mr Wong, who co-chairs the ministerial task force on the pandemic with Health Minister Gan Kim Yong, has said that a rise in the number of confirmed Covid-19 cases should be expected as more restrictions are eased. And this rise will be because of “hidden cases” among Singapore’s population.
“We must expect cases to rise in Singapore too when we resume activities. It’s not because of the clusters amongst the migrant workers which are contained in the dormitories and under control. The fact is that there are still hidden cases circulating amongst the general population. For example, when we did a test of around 16,000 pre-school teachers recently, we detected 8 cases. There are bound to be other undetected asymptomatic cases in the community.”
<Why We Are Easing Cautiously>We have been able to bring down the number of new community cases significantly. But we…
Mr Wong added that this is the reason for easing restrictions cautiously instead of all at once. He admitted that the authorities have had to make “tough decisions” in choosing what sectors may open first. He expressed regret in having had to turn down some sectors, which is necessary out of concern for public safety.
The minister further explained that Singapore is having to strike the right balance between lives and livelihoods. He added that since the reopening of the country will happen in stages, this will allow the authorities to have a “better control of the overall situation”. And if new infections come about, “we will be able to detect and ring-fence them quickly”.
In the meantime, “pro-active testing” will continue around the country.
Mr Wong added that the Government will keep on providing aid to workers and families, as well as businesses that are unable to open. /TISG