Mr Wong on Monday (May 25) took to Facebook to explain why the Government will have to shift out of the circuit breaker measures gradually. As other countries have experienced a ricochet of Covid-19 cases after easing up on lockdown measures, he argued that Singapore is trying to avoid the same dilemma by following the cautious approach taken by countries that have managed to avoid an overwhelming rebound.
“We must expect cases to rise in Singapore too when we resume activities,” he wrote, stressing, however, that “(i)t’s not because of the clusters amongst the migrant workers which are contained in the dormitories and under control.” Instead, Mr Wong said that the reason behind the expected rise in cases is the local transmission of the virus. “The fact is that there are still hidden cases circulating amongst the general population,” he said, citing the recent case where out of 16,000 pre-school teachers who were tested recently, eight were found to have the virus. “There are bound to be other undetected asymptomatic cases in the community. That’s why we have to move cautiously.”
Mr Wong explained that it is for this reason that “not everything can re-open at the same time, and tough decisions have to be made on which ones go first.” He addressed a recent concern raised by spa and massage centre owners as an example, saying that some have asked if they could resume operations since conducting physiotherapy sessions have been allowed.
Mr Wong explained, however, that the sessions were permitted as they are an “integral part of healthcare,” while spas and massage centres are not. “Each time we ease up on something, we introduce many more face-to-face contacts and people movement within the community,” he wrote. “That in turn means higher transmission risks and the likelihood of more infections.”
He did mention though, that the Ministry “would have liked to say ‘yes’ to all the requests.”
Mr Wong also acknowledged the disappointment of many Singaporeans who have been inconvenienced and economically hampered by the circuit breaker. However, he stressed that the Government is “prioritising both lives and livelihoods,” by doing what it can to keep the situation under control. He also reminded the public that the Government will continue extending support measures.