Singapore—In an interview with Bloomberg Television on Wednesday (March 11), S Iswaran, the country’s Minister for Communications and Information, said that Singapore must prepare for a “new normal.”
Singapore has received widespread praise from many countries for the way the Government has handled the Covid-19 outbreak, but Mr Iswaran said that the country cannot afford to get complacent.
He said, “We cannot be complacent because this is a very dynamic situation and we’re discovering new things every day in terms of the spread globally and in terms of the nature of the virus.”
The country, he added, would get “accustomed to the idea that some of the changes we are putting in place may in fact have to be in place for a longer period and maybe even be on a more permanent basis.”
In fact, he told Bloomberg that longer-term changes are necessary in the face of the coronavirus spread.
The Minister for Communications and Information said in the interview that the Government is considering suspending classes, as well as public and religious events and gatherings, in addition to additional social distancing endeavours.
He also said that large-scale public activities such as the National Day parade, held every year in August, are under review.
Mr Iswaran also spoke of the country’s law combating online falsehoods, POFMA, the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act, which was passed and implemented last year, in connection with removing misinformation during the spread of the Covid-19 outbreak, which Mr Iswaran said is one way to deal with the crisis.
He told Bloomberg, “We have to act swiftly and decisively to quell such things.
In this particular instance of COVID-19, the need for such legislation and the need for such tools in order to be able to deal with online falsehoods quickly and efficiently and decisively I think has been manifestly demonstrated.”
Singapore currently has 166 confirmed cases of Covid-19, seeing a decided uptick this week as compared to weeks past.
At this point, schools in Singapore have continued holding classes and offices are operating as usual, in contrast to other Asian cities such as Hong Kong.
Countries all over the world are preparing for a long-haul fight against the novel coronavirus, which experts are saying may last until the end of the year.
A top Hong Kong microbiologist said earlier this week that the spread of Covid-19 will not end this year. He also said that containment will not be able to eradicate the disease.
What will end the epidemic, said Professor Yuen Kwok-yung from the University of Hong Kong (HKU), is an inexpensive and effective vaccine or antiviral drug made available to most people or if the larger part of the population is actually infected with the disease and develops a natural immunity to it, since people who have been infected develop antibodies.
In a pre-recorded interview on television on Sunday (March 8), he said: “We think the epidemic will probably not come to an end. There will be what we call reversed imported cases. In the beginning other countries feared us, now we fear them (for bringing in the virus).”
He has also said that even containment would not be effective since the coronavirus has already spread to many countries across the globe, with very little success in curbing transmission links.
He said what would stop the spread would be people developing antibodies after recovery from the disease although he could not say when exactly this would take place. —/TISG
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