Range of factors will determine if further measures are needed

A bustling crowd of shoppers in Pagoda Street, in Chinatown, last Saturday. Education Minister Lawrence Wong urged the public to comply with the new measures.
A bustling crowd of shoppers in Pagoda Street, in Chinatown, last Saturday. Education Minister Lawrence Wong urged the public to comply with the new measures.ST PHOTO: SHINTARO TAY

The multi-ministry task force tackling the pandemic will look at a range of indicators and not just a single factor when determining if further restrictions will be implemented ahead of Chinese New Year.

These indicators will include the number of daily new Covid-19 cases, especially those that are unlinked, the cases found among patients who see doctors for acute respiratory infections, and the latest situation and assessments, said Education Minister Lawrence Wong.

Speaking during a media conference yesterday, Mr Wong, who co-chairs the task force, said he felt a sense of deja vu as the questions raised about the factors that might lead to measures being stepped up were similar to last year's.

"We look at the prevailing safe management measures and compliance with the safe management measures. If people are keeping to the measures, then it gives us some confidence that there is discipline, there is control, and people are complying," he said.

"But if there is a lot of non-compliance, then there is again a cause for concern. So, we look at this range of different measures, and based on the overall assessment, based on the latest situation and assessments, we will then consider whether or not additional restrictions or measures might be necessary."

Mr Wong reiterated that priority for vaccination will go to healthcare and front-line workers at border checkpoints as they are more at risk. This group includes airport and maritime workers as well as those involved in wholesale markets who interact with delivery riders coming from Malaysia.

"These workers who are in our new front line, they are the ones who are doing essential work to keep things going, to keep life going in Singapore, but they are exposed to travellers... and therefore, they are at risk of bringing the virus into the community," he said.

Mr Wong acknowledged that it will not be easy to enforce some of the new measures.

Citing the enforcement of the rule allowing households to receive up to eight distinct visitors a day, he said it is much harder to enforce a rule on visiting only up to two households outside one's own a day.

"Therefore, it will be an advisory, and we are strongly advising everyone (to comply)," he said.

He said in previous instances when the Government strongly advised Singaporeans to take certain precautions, such as the advisory on exercising or buying groceries alone, during the circuit breaker last year, many Singaporeans understood the importance and cooperated.

"Again, for this new advisory, we call on everyone to cooperate and to do their part to help us keep the infection under control so that together, we can avoid having to impose further drastic measures down the road," added Mr Wong.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 23, 2021, with the headline 'Range of factors will determine if further measures are needed'. Subscribe