S'pore 'effectively' back in Phase 2: Lawrence Wong

Singapore has not ruled out Circuit Breaker 2.

Belmont Lay | May 04, 2021, 08:14 PM

Singapore is "effectively back" in Phase 2, co-chair of the Multi-Ministry Taskforce Lawrence Wong said on Tuesday, May 4.

His comments were made during the press conference to announce the latest slew of measures to come into effect from May 8 to 30 to curb the community spread of the Covid-19 virus and the new strains that have made their way into Singapore.

Many of the latest measures were described as a phased approach reminiscent of conditions during Phase 2, which occurred from June 19 to the end of December 2020.

The most stifling period last year was during Circuit Breaker from April 7 to June 1, which saw only essential services allowed to operate.

Measures similar to those in Phase 2

Early on when he started fielding questions from the media, Wong said:

But as an additional pre-emptive step, we are taking this move that we have just described -- bringing the whole suite of measures back to Phase 2, and taking a much tighter posture overall.

And we believe that if we do that and if everyone who cooperates from now to the May 30 or end of May, we have a good chance of bringing cases down and getting things back on control.

Singapore now in better position to deal with Covid-19

However, he was also quick to add that Singapore is qualitatively in a different place compared to a year ago when the pandemic first kicked off.

Wong said:

I wouldn't say that the situation is where we were. This is like before we entered the Circuit Breaker last year.

Our public health experts who have been monitoring this very carefully, will liken it more to the early phase, when we entered into the Covid-19 outbreak, and we were seeing sprinkling of community cases throughout our community.

Wong said the difference today lies with Singapore having built more capabilities to test, contact trace and ring fence Covid-19 cases to prevent the spread of the virus, measures which were still being developed a year ago.

Returning to Circuit Breaker mode still possible though

But dialling back social activities even more to keep the virus in check is still a real possibility, the MTF revealed as well.

Gan Kim Yong, who is currently still the health minister, was also quick to clarify that Singapore is not only more equipped to deal with the virus outbreak, but if it had to go the opposite way, has not ruled out entering into another Circuit Breaker.

He said:

I think it's important for us to clarify that we have not ruled out the possibility of a Circuit Breaker.

Certainly we hope that we won't get there, and we must do what we can with this set of measures we've just announced, and with the cooperation and support of all Singaporeans, I think we probably will be able to avoid having to get to a Circuit Breaker situation.

We cannot rule that out.

And that is why we will continue to have to remain vigilant and monitor the situation and adjust our measures as we go along.

Wong reiterates why Singapore effectively in Phase 2 again

When asked to confirm again by the media by the end of the press conference that Singapore is back in Phase 2, Wong said:

... Yes, we are effectively back at Phase 2, based on all the measures as I've just described, eight to five, the new limits and new restrictions, effectively we are positioning our measures as going back to Phase 2.

Like I described earlier, there is a view that based on the assessment of the situation today, the fact that we have gone out very quickly last week to tighten up, to identify the cases, to close contacts, to get everyone tested -- that the range of measures we have already put in place might be sufficient to contain the clusters. That's one view.

Based on that we might be able to control the spread already, but we do not know -- we will never know whether there are cryptic hidden cases that may have escaped our net.

It's not possible to be 100 per cent sure.

So what we are proposing today and what we are announcing today is, in our view, a robust and pre-emptive move to tighten up across the board, reduce movement across the board, reduce interactions generally, and we believe that if we all do this, well, we will have a much better chance of reducing the spread of the virus, breaking the chains of transmission, and controlling more outbreaks of clusters in our community.

Wong also called on Singaporeans to restrict their interactions with one another and to stay home for the next few weeks.

He added:

But let's try our best to avoid that scenario, and let's all do our part first, to, as I said, comply with the new measures, the latest set of measures, and do it not just by following the letter of the law, but do it in the spirit of it.

So do our best to minimise our social interactions and activities and stay home as much as possible. That will certainly help reduce the chances of new cases emerging.

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