SINGAPORE: Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong gave an update on the COVID-19 situation in an address to the nation on Friday (Apr 3), in which he announced significantly stricter measures in what he termed as a “decisive move” to pre-empt escalating infections.
This is the third time Mr Lee has spoken to the nation on the COVID-19 situation.
On Mar 12, he sought to reassure the public that the situation in Singapore remained under control, and set out various measures that might need to be implemented going forward.
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Noting the increase in number of daily new COVID-19 cases, as well as local transmissions and clusters, Mr Lee said that the stricter measures will work as a circuit breaker and be in place for one month to help reduce the risk of a big outbreak and gradually bring Singapore’s numbers down.
From next Tuesday (Apr 7) until May 4, most workplaces – except for essential services and key economic sectors – will be closed.
Food establishments, markets and supermarkets, clinics, hospitals, utilities, transport and key banking services will remain open, as will their supply chains.
In a separate release, the Ministry of Health (MOH) said that all restaurants, hawker centres, coffeeshops, food courts and other food and beverage outlets will remain open only for takeaway or delivery.
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From next Wednesday, schools and institutes of higher learning will also be closed and move fully to home-based learning. All pre-school and student care centres will also be closed, but will provide limited services for children of parents who have to continue working and are unable to make alternative care arrangements.
Classes will resume on May 5.
There will also be restrictions on movements and gatherings of people. As far as possible, individuals should remain at home and avoid visiting even their extended families, particularly the elderly, said Mr Lee.
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Individuals should only leave their homes if they work in essential services or key economic sectors, or to buy food or exercise in neighbourhood parks, he said.
“The spirit of these measures is to get all of us to minimise physical contact. If we don’t go out, if we avoid contact with others, then the virus will not be able to spread. It is as simple as that,” said Mr Lee.
Here are some key points from Mr Lee’s address, as well as the live press conference by the multi-ministry task force tackling COVID-19, on Friday:
In a Facebook post earlier on Friday, Mr Lee said that the current COVID-19 situation in Singapore had been “under control” so far, but the Government wanted to “take a few more steps”.
“Since COVID-19, we have responded to the crisis calmly and systematically, planning ahead and adjusting our measures as the situation changed,” he said.
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“Let me reassure Singaporeans that our food supply is secure and adequate. Buy just what you need, and share any extra you have with those who need it. Let’s stay calm and united during this challenging period,” he added.
A total of 1,114 people have been diagnosed with COVID-19 in Singapore as of Friday.
On Friday, the country reported its fifth death related to the disease, an 86-year-old Singaporean woman who was a resident of the Lee Ah Mooi Old Age Home, one of the COVID-19 clusters.
READ: In full: PM Lee’s address on enhanced measures to deal with COVID-19 situation in Singapore
Following the announcement of the cluster, MOH and the Agency for Integrated Care said no visitors would be allowed at all nursing homes in Singapore for the month of April.
Caregivers will be given alternative ways to interact with nursing home residents, such as telephone and video calls, the authorities said.