While each country is facing a different set of circumstances amid the Covid-19 pandemic, they are all fighting a common enemy and should cooperate closely with one another, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said yesterday.
He made this point in a video message for the World Health Organisation (WHO) Western Pacific Regional Office's second virtual meeting of health ministers in the region, themed "Stand in Solidarity to Combat Covid-19".
In his video message posted on Facebook, PM Lee said he was invited to share Singapore's efforts in fighting Covid-19.
"Singapore has taken Covid-19 very seriously since the start. We have done our best to detect cases and isolate them, and to trace their contacts and quarantine them to stop further transmission.
"We have encouraged people to keep safe distances apart, wash their hands and now, to wear masks when going out," he said.
However, PM Lee said it has been a very difficult fight, and the number of cases has continued to rise despite the country's efforts.
Hence, substantially tighter safe distancing measures were introduced in the form of a circuit breaker. Day 1 of these enhanced measures started on Tuesday.
"We have closed all non-essential workplaces and required telecommuting wherever possible. We have also closed schools and childcare centres. We have told everyone to stay home," said PM Lee.
These measures are painful but essential, he stressed, adding that the next few weeks will be crucial for the country to bring the outbreak under control. "Many other countries have done the same. Each country has different circumstances, social norms and resources, but we are all fighting the same enemy - Covid-19," he said.
"We must cooperate closely... and learn from one another's experiences. This is the only way humanity can bring this pandemic under control. The battle is far from won. But it can be won, if we fight together. Singapore will do our part."
PM Lee added that Singapore greatly appreciates the leadership and expertise of the WHO under director-general Tedros Ghebreyesus and Western Pacific regional director Takeshi Kasai.
"We depend on the WHO to mobilise and coordinate an effective global response, including by convening today's meeting.
"I wish everyone strength and wisdom, as we deliberate and forge a way forward to good health and a new normal," he said.
Senior Minister of State for Health Lam Pin Min, who represented Singapore at the virtual meeting, said on Facebook that the meeting was a platform to share Singapore's perspective and learn from other member countries.
"Being an urban city, Singapore is especially vulnerable to infectious disease threats. We learnt from our experiences during the Sars and H1N1 outbreaks, and invested resources in pandemic preparedness over the years," he said.
Dr Lam added that the Covid-19 pandemic is yet another painful reminder that it is never too early to invest in robust pandemic preparedness and response.
"As member states continue to fight the battle within their countries and in their own unique way, we must also cooperate with one another, in order to accelerate the path towards winning the battle together," he said.