Lawrence Wong: Singaporeans have to be 'mentally prepared' for Covid-19 cases to go up

Wong said that shutting ourselves off from the world isn't a tenable situation.

Fasiha Nazren | March 03, 2020, 07:41 PM


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On Mar. 3, Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong shared the additional precautions that will be taken in terms of travel and checks at the borders.

Acknowledging that temperature scanners alone are not sufficient, Wong, who is co-chair of the Multi-Ministry Taskforce for Covid-19, said that checkpoints will be equipped with a new screening mechanism.

New screening mechanism

The Ministry of Health (MOH) announced that people with respiratory symptoms will now be identified and requested to take a Covid-19 swab test, with effect from tomorrow (Mar. 3).

They may continue their journey immediately after undergoing the test.

While awaiting results, which may take between three and six hours, they are advised to minimise contact with others.

Mentally prepared for more infected cases

Despite the updated measures, Wong said that Singaporeans have to be mentally prepared for the number of infected cases in Singapore to go up.

This was mentioned in a doorstop today after it was announced that visitors with recent travel history to Iran, northern Italy or the Republic of Korea within the last 14 days will not be allowed into Singapore.

Wong said: "We have been used to, I think, the experience so far in these past few days in Singapore where the number of cases rises by just a handful every day."

He stressed that this may not be the norm and it can change very easily.

Prepare for multiple waves of infection

Border controls are also still useful for now as sources of risk can be identified.

However, Wong said that we have to be ready for "multiple waves of infection":

"We have to be prepared that at some stage, the border controls alone will not be sufficient and we cannot stop the virus at our borders because the virus was spread to countries everywhere around us and even in countries where they do not report a lot of cases, they may well be undetected cases, or virus infections going around."

The only way to stop this, he said, is to isolate and shut ourselves off from the world but this wouldn't be a "tenable situation".

From 5 March 2020, all new visitors with recent travel history to four countries - China, Iran, Republic of Korea and northern Italy - within the last 14 days will not be allowed into Singapore.

Doubling up on efforts

Thus, efforts have to be redoubled not just in terms of border controls, but also what Singaporeans can do within the country itself, Wong said.

For example, the government has been highlighting precautions like maintaining good hand hygiene and upholding higher standards of personal and public hygiene.

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Top image from Rexanne Yap.