During the Multi-Ministry Taskforce press conference on Sep. 10, the MTF co-chairs shared more about the current Covid-19 situation and explained the approach to transiting into a Covid-19 resilient nation.
Since the last MTF press conference, the Taskforce has observed a doubling of daily new local cases to 450 as of yesterday.
This sharp rate of increase is "worrying", Minister for Trade and Industry Gan Kim Yong said.
Daily new cases to hit 1,000 soon
Gan added that the government wants to be sure that the number of Covid-19 cases does not suddenly spike, leading to the healthcare system getting overwhelmed as a result.
Both Minister for Health Ong Ye Kung and Minister for Finance Lawrence Wong said that while the increase in cases did not come as a surprise, the increase has happened faster than what the Taskforce has expected.
"Very soon we will reach 1,000 new cases a day, and in a few weeks’ time, we will probably get to 2,000 new cases a day. That's why we have to take a more cautious approach in the current situation and make sure that we adjust quickly to this fluid and rapidly changing infection situation."
Ong also said this is why a preparatory phase is part of the "roadmap" for the transition.
During this period, the authorities hope to get more people vaccinated, adjust healthcare protocols and try out several pilot projects that can help Singapore live with Covid-19.
One of the pilot projects was the home recovery scheme, which will be expanded to more fully vaccinated people who test positive with Covid-19 after seeing success at the pilot phase.
Ong also highlighted that the key focuses now are to keep death cases low and avoid the need to have a repeat circuit breaker, which some countries are undergoing right now.
Vaccination is the key to achieve these two goals, Ong added.
On top of vaccination, exercising restraint during this period is critical to avoid a circuit breaker, Wong said.
"As I have said on Monday, [heightened alert and circuit breaker] are last-resort measures, and we should not rule them out entirely. In the event that we see the risk of our hospital system being overwhelmed, we may have to introduce them. But at this point, we do not see a need to return to the heightened alert or to the circuit breaker."
Next two to four weeks will be crucial
Gan said that the next two to four weeks will be "crucial" as the Taskforce monitors the situation to see if current patients will develop serious illnesses or complications.
The Taskforce also urged seniors to avoid heading out in the next month. Those who are living with seniors should also reduce social activities.
Gan also reiterated that vaccination can protect against serious illness, and vaccinated people who test positive for Covid-19 recover faster than the unvaccinated, going by global and local data.
Singapore will be rolling out the vaccine booster programme from Sep. 14 for seniors aged 60 and above, and those who are moderately to severely immunocompromised.
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Top image by Zheng Zhangxin