Singapore can avoid coronavirus resurgence by learning from other nations: Gan Kim Yong

The task force has taken a "cautious approach" in easing restrictions for activities that are known to be of higher risk.
The task force has taken a "cautious approach" in easing restrictions for activities that are known to be of higher risk.ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

There has been a resurgence in the number of Covid-19 cases in countries such as Japan and Australia because safe management measures have not been adhered to. This includes people joining large gatherings or not wearing masks.

Presenting a chart showing the rise in cases in various countries at a virtual press conference yesterday, Health Minister Gan Kim Yong said: "We have found that some had gone out when they were unwell and mingled in settings where many people had congregated. These include religious events, parties and large family gatherings."

In South Korea, for example, door-to-door sales resulted in four clusters with over 200 cases, while religious gatherings there resulted in more than 110 cases.

In the Australian state of Victoria, large school clusters formed as students did not practise social distancing and participated in social gatherings outside.

Mr Gan also said that in Tokyo, more than 300 cases have been linked to nightlife establishments, while outbreaks have been recorded at restaurants in Hong Kong as patrons did not put their masks back on after their meals.

These incidents provide "useful lessons" that Singapore can glean to avoid a similar scenario happening here, he said.

"From these examples, we know that there are settings and activities that are more susceptible to transmission, where there is close and prolonged contact among individuals," he added, noting that these include workplaces, religious gatherings and nightlife establishments.

This is why the task force has taken a "cautious approach" in easing restrictions for activities that are known to be of higher risk. Nightclubs, for example, are still not allowed to reopen here.

As for places that need to function, such as workplaces, measures have been put in place to reduce the risk of infection spread in these settings, he said.

 
 
 

Where possible, workers are advised to work from home. If workers must go to the workplace, such as to access specialised equipment, they must observe a safe distance from their colleagues, and also wear masks.

"Some of these measures create inconvenience, but it is better to be safe," said Mr Gan.

"We are certainly, certainly not out of the woods yet. Globally, there are now more than 13 million reported Covid-19 cases and more than 500,000 deaths associated with Covid-19," he warned.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 18, 2020, with the headline 'S'pore can avoid virus resurgence by learning from other nations: Gan'. Print Edition | Subscribe