Coronavirus: Elderly must continue to be extra cautious, not time yet to relax

Health Minister urges seniors to stay indoors and not meet family members they do not live with

Some businesses, like hair salons, will be allowed to reopen, but with safeguards in place. Activities that entail large groups gathering in close proximity, such as religious gatherings, will continue to be disallowed.
Some businesses, like hair salons, will be allowed to reopen, but with safeguards in place. Activities that entail large groups gathering in close proximity, such as religious gatherings, will continue to be disallowed.ST PHOTO: JASON QUAH

This is not the time to relax, the multi-ministry task force handling the pandemic said yesterday, as it highlighted the need for the elderly to continue to be extra cautious despite the easing of some circuit breaker measures from May 5.

Health Minister Gan Kim Yong urged seniors to stay indoors and not meet family members they do not live with, saying precautions should be taken to protect them, given that they are a vulnerable group.

Seniors who become infected with the virus have a higher chance of falling seriously ill and the risk of dying from Covid-19 significantly increases with age.

All 17 Covid-19 patients in Singapore who have died were seniors with the youngest at 58 years old.

While family members can deliver groceries to seniors, gatherings are discouraged.

"We know it is very difficult. We naturally want to go out to have sunlight, to meet our friends, to socialise and to even have interaction with our family members," said Mr Gan yesterday.

"But I would encourage you to continue to stay at home because this is for your own protection."

The best way to deliver food to the elderly, he added, is to leave the items outside their homes for the seniors to pick them up, without having any contact. This will minimise the risk of exposure.

Separately, while some businesses will be allowed to reopen, they will do so only with the appropriate safeguards in place.

 
 

National Development Minister Lawrence Wong, who co-chairs the task force, said Singaporeans should continue to stay home as far as possible and not treat the easing of measures as a signal that the battle is won.

"The bottom line is, this is not the time to slacken and let our guard down. We may be easing some measures but we must stay very disciplined and vigilant," he said.

"We have to do this cautiously and gradually. And as we do this, we need everyone to cooperate, so that we can open up the economy and resume normal activities safely, without causing further clusters to form."

Mr Wong added that Singaporeans should continue to abide by the spirit of the guidelines and not the letter of the law.

"This means all (staying) at home, (avoiding) going out as much as possible and minimising contact. And when you go out, do it alone," he said.

 
 

Activities that entail large groups gathering in close proximity, such as religious gatherings, will continue to be disallowed, Mr Wong said.

"I don't know exactly when, but I would imagine that these sorts of settings, these kinds of high touch, close contact activities will be the last that we allow," he said.

"So we just have to be mindful. This is the nature of the infection. Whenever there is close contact (or) interactions between people, that's how the virus will spread."

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on May 03, 2020, with the headline 'Elderly must continue to be extra cautious, not time yet to relax'. Subscribe