It is now almost a routine—Singaporeans clinging onto the edge of our seats whenever a new address by PM Lee is announced. The last time this happened was well over 2 weeks ago on 3 April, when we had just learnt that our lives were about to be changed forever. Well, not forever, but for a good period of time at least.
It’s only April, and yet 2020 feels like it’s already four months too long. Initially hailed as the poster child for handling the COVID-19 outbreak, Singapore, admittedly, has seen better times.
The surge in new infections, attributed to the migrant worker clusters, is just one of the hard truths we have to square up to face. Today is 21 April, two weeks into the Circuit Breaker measures, and once again, PM Lee’s little blue cup has risen to greet us—here’s the reality that awaits us.
PM Lee opened his 21 April address with gratitude, thanking Singaporeans for their compliance to the Circuit Breakers. He had also mentioned that almost all migrant workers only displayed mild symptoms, and none of them had needed intensive care. That said, they will continue to monitor the situation closely, and treat it with utmost urgency. “To our migrant workers, we will care for you, just like we care for Singaporeans,” said PM Lee.
Other groups of workers that are being paid special attention to include those who live in shophouses, HDB flats, and private housing, as well as those working in essential services. As they frequently move in and out of workplaces, this can create a channel for cross infections. As such, the government is housing these essential workers separately, and testing frequently to pick up any infections early.
In a decisive move, the multi ministry task force wants to bring down community numbers with early detection and containment. This is to prevent new clusters from forming, and bursting out of control.
PM Lee also reiterated that it is important for Singaporeans to adhere to these measures not only because of the law, but to honour the “spirit of the guidelines”, which is to limit movement to neighbourhoods, and to reduce contact with one another.
Even more workplaces will be closed such that only most essential of workers will be required to attend work. This comes at a minor compromise, says PM Lee, and residents have to expect less frequent grass-cutting, for example.
As many might have speculated before this address, the initially four-week-long Circuit Breaker will be extended for another 4 weeks more, until 1 June 2020. While acknowledging that this might be a difficult pill to swallow for many businesses, PM Lee stressed that it is the best way to be more assured and certain of the progress that we are making.
Online, reactions have been swift and relatable.
All that said, I’d like to end off by reiterating the fact that it will take us cooperation and solidarity in a combined effort to overcome this. Every action or contribution—no matter the magnitude—goes a long way in this shared fight.
Read more about other COVID-19 stories: A COVID-19 patient’s recount of her still on-going battle with the virus, or the psychology behind why unusual items are flying off the shelves in the time of a pandemic.
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