S'pore to get in touch with Shangri-La Dialogue, World Economic Forum organisers after jump in local Covid-19 cases

Attendees to conferences such as the Shangri-La Dialogue will have to take into account the broader situation.
Attendees to conferences such as the Shangri-La Dialogue will have to take into account the broader situation.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - The authorities will get in touch with the organisers of international conferences such as the Shangri-La Dialogue and the World Economic Forum, in view of the jump in local cases and new clusters, said Education Minister Lawrence Wong at the multi-ministry task force press conference on Friday (May 14).

"The organisers will have to assess the public health situation globally and the prevailing situation in Singapore... We are in touch and will provide them with information on our public health updates," added Mr Wong, a co-chair of the task force.

He said the attendees will have to take into account the broader situation and if they are prepared to travel.

A spokesman for the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS)-Asia, said that it remains committed to holding the 19th Shangri-La Dialogue in person, come early June.

"We will review our safe management measures in light of the news to ensure the highest safety levels for all our participants and the wider community in Singapore," she said.

The World Economic Forum special meeting is slated to take place from Aug 17 to 20.

Review of PPE measures for front-line workers

The personal protective equipment (PPE) regime for front-line workers will be reviewed, starting in the hospitals before being extended to other sectors.

This is to better protect front-line workers from being exposed to variants of concern, said Associate Professor Kenneth Mak, who added that provisional results showed that the early cases in relation to the Tan Tock Seng Hospital and Changi Airport clusters are associated with the B16172 strain.

"At this time, the assessment is not that they were laxed in their compliance with the PPE regimes, but were placed in settings where there may have been exacerbating factors.

"There may have been a very high viral load, and there may have been issues with airflow and ventilation, which may have exacerbated spread of the virus to susceptible individuals," he added.

Likewise, Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung, also co-chair of the task force, said that all the workers at Changi Airport were masked up with PPE, though further studies must be conducted to understand if the virus could have been transmitted through the toilets or during meals.

He added that people who dined at the food court in the commercial area of the airport may have been infected when they took their masks off during mealtimes.

Mr Ong reiterated that vaccinations, masks and PPE do help in curbing transmissions.

Public transport kept very safe with Covid-19 precautions

Mr Ong said public transport can be kept "very safe" with a range of measures taken by both the train operators and the cooperation of commuters.

He noted that the air on the train is being replenished every six minutes, notwithstanding the opening and closing of train doors.

Passengers can also reduce the risk of spread by keeping their masks on and refraining from talking.

Mr Ong said the current ridership on trains and buses is at about 70 per cent compared with before the Covid-19 pandemic.

"Where there is some crowding (on trains), it is often at a particular station and particular time, and one station later, it disperses," he said.

"So these are the settings that we are talking about - transient, a bit of crowding at 70 per cent of pre-Covid-19 volumes."

This is expected to fall further with the series of additional restrictions that will kick in from Sunday, with work from home becoming the default, he said.