Singapore announces lockdown measures for one month

Singapore announces lockdown measures for one month

‘Circuit Breaker’ comes into effect on April 7, 2020
Venkat Raman
Auckland, April 4, 2020

Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (Screenshot)

Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has announced a virtual lockdown of the City-State for one month effective, Tuesday, April 7, 2020.

He called it ‘Applying a Circuit Breaker.’

A long list of essential services has been published- these include food establishments, supermarkets, commercial banks, health services and other connected facilities.

Addressing the Nation at a televised broadcast last evening, Mr Lee said that it was time to take decisive and strong measures ‘in one go,’ instead of on incremental basis.

 

Rising rate of cases

At the time of writing this report, the total number of coronavirus cases in Singapore was 1114, of which 827 were listed as active and 24 in critical conditions. There have been five deaths so far.

He said that for the past two weeks, the number of new cases reported daily had risen to 50 and that community transmission has also been on the rise.

“Despite our good contact tracing, for nearly half of these cases, we do not know where or from whom the person caught the virus. This suggests that there are more people out there who are infected, but who have not been identified. And they may be passing the virus unknowingly to others,” Mr Lee said.

Several clusters found

He said that his government has discovered several clusters at foreign worker dormitories, and one at a nursing home. These are very worrying, because large numbers of people live together in dormitories and nursing homes. A single case can quickly lead to a large cluster. Furthermore, nursing home patients are mostly old and frail, and very vulnerable to the virus, he said.

Mr Lee defined essential services and key economic sectors as food establishments, markets and supermarkets, clinics, hospitals, utilities, transport and key banking services.

Movements of goods to keep the global supply chain running will continue, he said.

“But most other work premises must close. If the person can work from home, he should do so. But others will not be able to, including foreign workers on construction sites and in shipyards. These workers live in dormitories, and we will make arrangements to look after them,” he said.

Home learning extended

Singapore’s Education Ministry will work with schools to implement full home-based learning starting on April 8, 2020. All preschool 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.

Mr Lee also announced tighter restrictions on movements and public gatherings.

“Stay at home, as much as possible. Avoid socialising with others beyond your own household. Gatherings should be confined to your household. Avoid visiting even your extended families who are not staying with you, especially if they are elderly or vulnerable. Go out only to do essential things. For work, if you are in essential services or key economic sectors. To buy food at markets, or to take out from restaurants and hawker centres. Or to exercise in the neighbourhood park, keeping a safe distance from others,” he said.

Face masks

While Singapore is yet to make face mask mandatory, it is no longer discouraging people from doing so. The government is yet to issue a ruling on this issue.

“Wearing a mask may help to protect others, in case you have the virus but do not know it. This is so that you keep your droplets to yourself, when you sneeze or speak or cough. It can also protect yourself a little better, especially if you are elderly, or vulnerable because of pre-existing health conditions,” Mr Lee said.

The Multi-Ministry Task Force has worked out details of the lockdown, provisions of which (including social distancing) will be implemented by the law enforcing authorities.

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