Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong expressed confidence yesterday (Nov 27) that Singapore has what it takes to emerge stronger from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, as he looked back on the tumultuous year that is coming to an end.
The coronavirus pandemic came to Singapore’s shores during the Chinese New Year period in January. Early cases were primarily imported until local transmission began to develop in February and March. The Government’s response to the virus was initially held up as the gold standard by the international community until the number of cases spiralled out of control when the virus spread like wildfire in the crowded migrant worker dormitories.
The Government imposed a lockdown-style ‘circuit breaker’ from April 7 to May 4 and announced a three-phased approach to resume activities safely with the gradual re-opening of economic activities in each phase. Phase 1 lasted for 17 days from June 2-18.
A mere five days after Singapore entered Phase 2, PM Lee called for an election. The ruling party asked for a stronger mandate to fight the pandemic but received one of its poorest results when Singapore went to the polls on July 10.
Singapore is currently in Phase 2, with Phase 3 expected to begin by the end of the year. The last phase of reopening will be sustained until a vaccine is available. As of Nov 27 2020, there are 60 active cases out of a total of 58,199 confirmed cases, with 58,111 recoveries and 28 deaths.
Singapore has the lowest case fatality rate in the world at 0.05 per cent, which is significantly lower than the World Health Organisation’s global case fatality rate of 4.34 per cent.
When asked about how the pandemic has impacted Singapore at the Bloomberg New Economy Forum last week, Mr Lee had said:
“COVID-19 is a powerful reminder that while Man proposes, God disposes. Immediately, governments worldwide were forced to change gears, put aside their plans, and make COVID-19 their top priority. It was a stark lesson that no matter how carefully one plans ahead, being able to deal with the unexpected is equally important.”
Despite the chaos wreaked by the crisis, the head of government has now said that he is heartened by the way Singaporeans stepped up to the challenge. Sharing a photo of the Singapore skyline that he had taken, Mr Lee wrote on Facebook yesterday:
“It has been a tough and tumultuous year, with the COVID-19 pandemic wreaking havoc on our lives, livelihoods and established norms. We’ve had to change and adapt to new norms such as social distancing, temperature taking, mask wearing, and using TraceTogether.
“But I am heartened that Singaporeans, young and old, have stepped up to the challenge. Not just to reinvent themselves, but also to help others less fortunate and vulnerable.”
Pointing out that Singapore has emerged stronger from each crisis it faced in the past, Mr Lee said that he is confident that the island nation will continue to shine on:
“In previous crises, each time we were tested we survived, and actually came back stronger. So I am confident that this time too we will emerge stronger, and more resilient and united. The little red dot will shine on!”
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