S’pore trying very hard to avoid start-stops in Covid-19 measures: Lawrence Wong

Minister Lawrence Wong said the multi-ministry task force makes the next move only when it is sure the overall infection situation is stable. ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG
5- a-side players taking an antigen rapid test at Pasir Ris Sports Centre on Nov 10, 2021. ST PHOTO: DESMOND FOO

SINGAPORE - As much as Singapore has tried to avoid a "start-stop" approach in tackling Covid-19, the country still had to make constant adjustments to prevailing measures, said Finance Minister Lawrence Wong on Monday (Nov 15).

"We understand that it is not always easy for people to keep track of the changes in our measures, and from time to time it also creates frustration because of the perceived flip-flops in our Covid-19 strategy," he told reporters at a press conference held by the multi-ministry task force tackling Covid-19.

"That's why we are trying very hard to avoid start-stops in our measures, and to minimise the need to throttle back or to tighten. But I hope everyone understands it is very challenging to do this."

Mr Wong was explaining why Singapore has chosen to ease its Covid-19 measures - both domestically as well as at its borders - in a "controlled, careful and calibrated" manner.

When changes are made, the multi-ministry task force monitors the situation in the coming days or weeks, and makes the next move only when it is sure the overall infection situation is stable, he added.

"So, we have done some moves already. We will monitor the situation over the next few days, and early next week we will give a further update on our possible next steps."

Other countries - including those that people had called on Singapore to emulate - are facing similar problems, the minister noted.

Several months ago, many European countries relaxed their Covid-19 measures and opened up their economies.

But today, many are seeing a sharp spike in cases, and have reimposed restrictions or are considering doing so. These include Denmark, Austria and the Netherlands.

"The point is, countries everywhere have to deal with these adjustments throughout the pandemic," Mr Wong said.

Even those with high vaccination rates have to deal with the reality that the virus comes in "rolling waves of infection", and have to adjust measures based on these waves to protect the healthcare system.

"And we have to keep on doing that until we reach a stabler equilibrium with the virus. This is the common challenge that countries everywhere are dealing with."

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