Letter of the week: Concern for economic impact must be balanced against greater consequences

The delayed reaction in temporarily banning flights from high-risk countries may have resulted in an increase in imported and community cases. PHOTO: ST FILE

I refer to the article "Shortfall of 130,000 workers if S'pore had shut borders" (May 19), which pointed to Singapore's reliance on migrant workers and the resulting huge shortage of workers if Singapore were to shut its borders.

The figures provided by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) do not provide a clear enough picture. They were based on the assumption that the borders were closed for one whole year, which is not practical and also not what citizens feel the Government should have done.

I agree with those who suggest that the Government should have taken pre-emptive measures by temporarily banning all flights from high-risk countries.

I urge MOM to reveal more granular statistics, so that we can see the impact on our economy if the Government had taken the above measures, and also acted earlier.

For example, while India's second wave of Covid-19 infections started early last month, Singapore banned visitors from India only on April 24.

The delayed reaction may have resulted in an increase in imported and community cases.

There was a similar lesson last year, when the first infection in the worker dormitories happened in January, but the affected dormitories were locked down only a few months later. In the end, the economic as well as non-economic impact on the nation was probably much greater than if earlier action had been taken.

While I understand the Government's concern about the economic impact, hesitation in making decisive decisions may bring greater economic consequences.

Yeo Chee Kean

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