Long struggle ahead to defeat Covid-19

A swab test being conducted at a Regional Screening Centre in the Old Police Academy on June 9, 2020.
A swab test being conducted at a Regional Screening Centre in the Old Police Academy on June 9, 2020.ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

While the circuit breaker has been lifted, Singaporeans should be under no illusions that the country has defeated Covid-19.

In a televised national address yesterday, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said this is just the end of the beginning phase, and a long struggle lies ahead.

This is because the coronavirus will be around for at least a year and probably longer, until a vaccine is developed and becomes available.

"It is a very difficult and tricky disease to deal with. So, we have to continue keeping a close watch on the situation," he said, adding that Singaporeans must be psychologically prepared for more ups and downs in this fight.

He noted that many other countries successfully brought their cases down, only to experience fresh outbreaks after opening up again. Examples he cited included South Korea, where a second wave began in Seoul nightspots, and China, where new cases emerged from a wholesale food market in Beijing.

Around the world, the number of infections has crossed the nine million mark, and nearly half a million people have died.

Singapore detected its first cases, most of which were imported, in January. "But soon we observed a growing number of local cases, with no links to infected visitors," he said.

The numbers grew in March, especially when the virus started to spread among migrant workers in dormitories. "We responded decisively. We imposed a circuit breaker for two months. We made strenuous efforts to care for our migrant workers," said PM Lee.

"In the migrant worker dormitories, we are making steady progress, though it will take a few more months to resolve the problem. At the same time, new community cases have come down sharply. Most importantly, we have kept the number of fatalities low."

There is currently only one patient in an intensive care unit. To date, 26 have died from complications owing to Covid-19.

As of yesterday, the number of new cases in the community has decreased, from an average of seven cases per day in the week before, to an average of four per day in the past week.

DECISIVE ACTION

We responded decisively. We imposed a circuit breaker for two months. We made strenuous efforts to care for our migrant workers.

PRIME MINISTER LEE HSIEN LOONG, on responding to the spread of the virus.

The Health Ministry confirmed 119 new coronavirus cases as of noon yesterday, taking Singapore's total to 42,432. They include three community cases - a Singapore permanent resident, a work pass holder and a work permit holder.

Grace Ho

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 24, 2020, with the headline 'Long struggle ahead to defeat Covid-19'. Print Edition | Subscribe