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Singapore cannot simply let go and let things rip, as PM Lee rules out indefinite lockdown

'We have to travel this road to get to living safely with COVID-19'

leehsiengf Singapore PM Lee Hsien Loong | Reuters

Singapore cannot go into an indefinite lockdown and standstill, but also cannot "simply let go and let things rip", Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said.

"We have to travel this road to get to living safely with COVID-19. We want to get there with as few casualties as possible," Lee said in a Facebook post on Saturday.

Singapore's multi-ministry task force announced on Saturday a slew of measures for the effective opening up of the affluent city-state.

These include requiring vaccination for all staff returning to the workplace from Jan 1, 2022, as well as adding China's Sinovac to the national vaccination program and expanding the home recovery scheme to certain pregnant women, The Straits Times newspaper reported.

The task force is co-chaired by Trade and Industry Minister Gan Kim Yong, Finance Minister Lawrence Wong, and Health Minister Ong Ye Kung.

In his post, Lee highlighted the weekly infection growth rate -- the ratio of community causes in the past week over the week before.

Two weeks ago, this figure was 1.5, meaning that cases were doubling roughly every fortnight.

It now stands at 1.15, meaning that cases are growing 15 percent each week. This works out to case numbers doubling about every month.

If the ratio drops below one and Singapore's hospital and intensive care unit situations remain stable, some measures can be eased, Lee said.

"Many of you have written to express your frustrations about the restrictions, while others have voiced concerns that we are opening up too fast!" he noted.

"I fully understand how you feel. It has been a long journey, and the continuing uncertainty and disruption are hard on all of us." Certain sectors, such as the food and beverage industry, have had an exceptionally tough time, the Prime Minister explained.

He urged everyone to continue doing their part and exercise social responsibility as Singapore works towards living safely with the virus.

This includes taking vaccinations or booster doses when offered, as they reduce an individual's chances of getting seriously ill, he said.

"Let's continue to stay safe and keep working together," Lee added.

The Health Ministry reported 3,598 new COVID-19 cases on Saturday, which includes 790 from migrant workers' dormitories, and six deaths from complications due to the virus. Three hundred people have died from coronavirus-linked complications while 169,261 infections have been reported since the virus broke here last year.


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