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Plans for phase 3 of S'pore's reopening to be revealed in weeks

Lim Min Zhang on 05 Oct 2020

The Straits Times


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SINGAPORE - More details on when Singapore will enter the third stage of its phased reopening will be released by the multi-ministry task force in the coming weeks, said Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat on Monday (Oct 5).


This roadmap will include the expected timeline for moving to phase three, changes to current regulations on the size of group gatherings, and participation at mass events, Mr Heng told Parliament.


He was giving a ministerial statement on an overview of the progress of Singapore's fight against Covid-19, its fiscal position, and strategies for the country to emerge stronger from this crisis.


Phase two of Singapore's reopening was meant to last for several months even as more measures are lifted, while phase three is the "new normal" until a vaccine or treatment is found for Covid-19.


"In our fight against Covid-19, we are currently in a stable position, but we must remain vigilant. Amid the uncertainties, we are adapting to living with the virus," said Mr Heng, who is also Coordinating Minister for Economic Policies and Finance Minister.


To further reopen safely in the coming months, Singapore is adopting a four-pronged strategy to put itself in the best position to fight Covid-19, he said.


These four areas are: securing early access to effective vaccines, enhancing testing capabilities, conducting swift contact tracing and isolation of infected individuals, and adhering to safe management measures.


Despite uncertainties about the global pandemic, such as how successful other countries are in containing it as they open up their economies, there is hope that Singapore can overcome this crisis, he said.


On vaccines, Singapore is working very actively to secure early access to safe and effective vaccines, if and when they become available.


Mr Heng noted that Singapore is an early supporter of the Covid-19 Vaccine Global Access Facility which accelerates the development and production of, and equitable access to potential Covid-19 vaccines.


Singapore is pursuing the procurement of Covid-19 vaccines with a number of pharmaceutical companies, supporting local efforts to develop one, and building up local vaccine manufacturing capacity, he said.


On testing, the country has also increased polymerase chain reaction tests manifold, and is close to its target of being able to conduct 40,000 laboratory tests a day.


"We are also evaluating new testing technologies that are less invasive and can produce test results more quickly. This enhanced testing capability will help us safely resume more activities sooner," added Mr Heng.


As for contact tracing and isolating infected people, he said doing so swiftly was key to limiting the spread of the virus.


"Our contact tracing teams are doing a sterling job, and using digital tools well. The TraceTogether app, together with tokens that are being distributed nationwide, and the SafeEntry programme, enable contact tracing to reach the speed and coverage needed to rapidly contain viral transmission."


Safe management measures must also continue to be adhered to. "Keeping community infections low is the key to reopening our economy safely," he added.


Source: The Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Reproduced with permission.



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