Inconvenient Covid-19 circuit breaker measures can be eased sooner, if strict compliance observed, says PM Lee

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PM Lee said the more strictly Singaporeans observe the restrictions, the faster they will work, and the sooner the measures can be eased. PHOTO: PRIME MINISTER'S OFFICE

SINGAPORE - The circuit breaker measures to combat the Covid-19 outbreak are very inconvenient, and come at a high cost to the economy, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said on Friday (April 10).

But the more strictly Singaporeans observe the restrictions, the faster they will work, and the sooner the measures can be eased, PM Lee said, as he urged everyone to play their part.

He told Singaporeans that he will be providing updates on the situation through speeches on Facebook from time to time, with the next few weeks set to be "tough".

"If some of us fail to comply strictly with the measures, the circuit breaker will fail, then all our inconvenience, pain and sacrifice will have been in vain," said PM Lee, speaking in a speech posted on Facebook to update about the Covid-19 situation in Singapore.

"Covid-19 is very contagious. It only takes a few people to let down their guard, and the virus will slip through."

The stepped-up measures aimed to combat the Covid-19 outbreak, dubbed "circuit breaker", kicked in on Tuesday. The wide-ranging measures include temporarily banning non-essential businesses from operating at their workplaces, and barring social gatherings.

Singapore saw a sharp spike of 287 coronavirus cases on Thursday, with about 70 per cent linked to foreign worker dormitories.

This is the highest daily number reported to date and brings the total number of cases here to 1,910, as the global number of cases crossed the 1.5 million mark.

PM Lee also made an appeal to older Singaporeans to stay home for their own safety. He said: "I am one of you, so I know how you feel. When we are cooped up at home, we get restless and frustrated.

"But please understand: We are telling you to stay at home for your own safety. Older people are more vulnerable to the virus. If we catch Covid-19, it is a serious matter.

"Our chances of dying are much higher, and if we get infected and spread the virus to our friends around our age, or bring the virus back home to our families, then, we put them in grave danger."

There have been six deaths in Singapore due to the coronavirus. All six victims were elderly - ranging between ages 64 and 88.

Figures released in international studies have shown that the risk of dying from Covid-19 rises significantly with age.

PM Lee also addressed the issue of clusters breaking out in foreign worker dormitories, citing the inter-agency task force set up to address the situation in such facilities.

He said that the authorities had been worried about this issue occurring, and now that it has happened, a comprehensive response has been put to face the problem.

"We are paying close attention to the welfare of the foreign workers," said PM Lee as he lauded the contributions of these workers to Singapore's growth.

"We have worked with their employers to make sure they will be paid their salaries, and can remit money home. We will provide them with the medical care and treatment that they need."

In a direct address to the families of these workers, he added: "We feel responsible for their well-being. We will do our best to take care of their health, livelihood and welfare here, and to let them go home, safe and sound, to you."

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