The Straits Times says

The coronavirus fight is far from over

The war against Covid-19 here is proceeding smoothly, mainly on three fronts. Singapore is entering its final phase of testing and clearing all foreign workers staying in dormitories of the coronavirus, which can be done possibly before mid-August. That would represent a substantial achievement in managing the crisis that erupted with the appearance of clusters in the dorms. Managing, controlling and containing that outbreak took a gigantic effort, given that about 94 per cent of Singapore's confirmed coronavirus cases are dorm residents. But it is bearing fruit now. Taking care of foreign workers and getting them back to work are crucial from both a public health and an economic perspective. That is the first front.

The second, comprising imported cases, occupies a smaller stretch of the battlefield, but needs extreme vigilance too. The external environment remains fluid and worrying. At its worst, that environment is characterised by countries where the pandemic continues to spread, and quickly. At its best, nations that controlled the virus are witnessing a resurgence of cases. It is proper in the circumstances for Singaporeans to avoid travel and shore up on border controls. The tightening of restrictions on those with recent travel history, including transit, to Victoria in Australia, Japan and Hong Kong is an instance of the need to review and update border measures based on the latest assessment of the global situation.

Community transmission remains the third and no less crucial front. Strict border controls help prevent infection from imported cases, while decisive action on the situation in foreign workers' dorms complements that process. However, there still is a need to ensure that community transmissions remain very low. Singapore's strategy is to detect and ring-fence local transmissions. It is doing so by having scaled up testing significantly for those diagnosed with acute respiratory infection over the past few weeks. This move has helped to pick up new cases, which are an important indicator of underlying community spread. Thankfully, the number of unlinked current infections in the community remains low.

But the challenge is to maintain the degree of continuity and consistency that has been achieved in the fight against Covid-19 so far. Meeting this challenge rests on the shoulders of Singaporeans. It is a natural temptation to let defences down when the worst of a battle appears to have passed. After all, the circuit breaker has been lifted, and people are freer to move around now. Whether at work or in community interactions, the sense of fear that inspired compliance to strict circuit breaker measures is receding. People may think that the new "peace" will hold. However, the war against Covid-19 is far from over. Safe management measures and practices must remain second nature for some time to come.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 23, 2020, with the headline 'The coronavirus fight is far from over'. Print Edition | Subscribe