Covid-19 task force to remain in place, says Lawrence Wong

The MTF will not be stood down as it is not yet known how the coronavirus will mutate and what the impact of future variants will be, said DPM Lawrence Wong. PHOTO: MCI

SINGAPORE - Although the Republic's Covid-19 situation has improved, the multi-ministry task force (MTF) tackling the pandemic will not be stood down, said Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong on Wednesday (Aug 24).

This is because it is not yet known how the coronavirus will mutate and what the impact of future variants will be, he said during a press conference - the first MTF press conference to be held in person since March 24, 2020.

"It may be milder, and we certainly hope it is. But it could also be more aggressive and dangerous," said Mr Wong, who has co-chaired the MTF since its inception.

The task force was formed in January 2020 to coordinate government efforts to fight Covid-19.

“I want to assure you that the MTF is still at work, and we are continuing to closely monitor the pandemic situation,” said Mr Wong. 

He added that plans are in place for various contingencies, including scaling up Singapore's healthcare capacity and vaccination operations if required.

Pandemic measures that have been eased - such as border restrictions as well as safe management measures - can also be implemented once again should a more aggressive Covid-19 wave emerge in the future, he said.

Such moves can buy time to enhance Singapore's healthcare capacity or give everyone a second booster shot if needed.

Mr Wong, who is also the Finance Minister, urged people to maintain their "solidarity, trust and unity" to get through the pandemic.

"I hope we will not need to invoke these measures again. But we know from past experience that this is a tricky virus and we have to expect the unexpected," he said.

Remote video URL

While many safe management measures are no longer mandated, Mr Wong urged everyone to continue exercising personal and social responsibility.

Though the requirement to wear masks indoors is being lifted, senior citizens and those who are immunocompromised should continue to wear masks in crowded indoor settings to reduce their risk of catching Covid-19 as well as other respiratory infections, he said.

In addition, people who feel unwell should continue to stay home and avoid going out, while close contacts of Covid-19 cases should ensure they test negative using antigen rapid test kits before going out over the next five days.

READ NEXT: Masks optional on taxis and in most indoor settings from Monday - 7 things you need to know

Join ST's WhatsApp Channel and get the latest news and must-reads.