The year is 2020. The date is April 3rd. And the time is 4 pm. Ever since the treacherous COVID-19 outbreak, Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has been consistently and calmly updating the nation periodically through national television, where necessary. And it’s gotten us Singaporeans on the edge of our seats, watching each address with bated breath and guessing the nation’s next steps amongst ourselves in not-so-hushed whispers. Here’s what we know from the latest address by PM Lee.
PM Lee has addressed the public in his latest speech as of yet, 3 weeks from the last address he made. Despite a crunch down on patient monitoring and contact tracing, last week has seen a spike in COVID-19 cases in Singapore, nearly half of which are not linked. This has been worrying, as more clusters like that in the nursing home and dormitories surface. “A single case can quickly lead to a large cluster,” PM Lee says.
Unless we take further steps, things will gradually get worse. A multi-ministry task force has been formed to tackle this very challenge, and they have taken the collective decision to make a move now, to prevent further spread or spikes. PM Lee explains this like a circuit breaker of sorts—put in place to reduce the risk of a big outbreak recurring, and one that should help to gradually bring our numbers down.
This 3-pronged circuit breaker will be in place for the next month and is as follows:
Nearly all workplaces will have to close except for those in essential services and key economic sectors. Transport, key banking services, and healthcare are amongst those identified as essential services. Employees working in these sectors will continue to work but not without safe distancing measures in place. This will take effect from next Tuesday, 7th April.
All schools and institutes of higher learning will implement full home-based learning starting next Wednesday, 8th April. All pre-school and student care centres will also be closed. But, parents who still have to continue working will be provided with childcare solutions for their younger children.
PM Lee advises all to stay at home, avoid socialising with others beyond their households, avoid visiting the elderly—extended family included, and to go out only to do essential things. Work, exercise, taking meals out, and doing groceries are amongst activities cited as essential things. This is to minimise physical contact with one another.
Already, reports of panic buying at the supermarkets are being shared by users on twitter.
PM Lee ended the address on a comforting note acknowledging the fact that safe distancing is psychologically no small feat, for it goes against our natural instinct of wanting to be close to those we love. However, he appeals to the coorporation and understanding of all Singaporeans to stay home nonetheless and to still maintain contact by adopting telecommunication instead.
Here’s to working together towards a COVID-free Singapore. Stay safe everyone.
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