Despite being declared pandemic, the COVID-19 outbreak here is under control and Singapore will not raise its Disease Outbreak Response System Condition (DORSCON) level to Red, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in an address to the public on Thursday (March 12).
This is the second update by the Prime Minister on the coronavirus situation. The first was on 8 February, a day after Singapore raised its DORSCON alert level to Orange.
“We are not going to DORSCON Red. We are not locking down our city like the Chinese, South Koreans or Italians have done. What we are doing now is to plan ahead for some of these more stringent measures, try them out, and prepare Singaporeans for when we actually need to implement them,” Mr Lee said.
PM Lee on COVID-19 Outbreak in Singapore: “DORSCON level not going into Red”| Image Source: MCI
PM Lee on COVID-19 Outbreak: Situation here is under control
Mr Lee noted that because the World Health Organization (WHO) had declared the outbreak a pandemic, the outbreak here “will continue for some time – a year, and maybe longer.”
But Mr Lee said Singapore faces a “serious situation”, expect “more imported cases, and therefore new clusters and new waves of infection” from other countries.
As of 12 March, Singapore has 187 confirmed cases of COVID-19, of which 96 cases have recovered and been discharged from hospital.
“We will have to tighten up further temporarily, though we cannot completely shut ourselves off from the world,” Mr Lee said.
PM Lee: Get used to baseline measures
“There are baseline things that we must get used to, like practising good personal hygiene, adopting new social norms and discouraging large gatherings, and generally, maintaining some physical distance from one another,” Mr Lee said.
Besides medical plans, if there is a spike, Mr Lee said the Singaporeans will also need additional social distancing measures. “These will be temporary like suspending school, staggering work hours, or compulsory telecommuting.”
Image Source: iStock
“They will be extra ‘brakes’, to be implemented when we see a spike in cases. The extra brakes will slow down [the] transmission of the virus, prevent our healthcare system from being overwhelmed and help bring the numbers back down,” he said, adding that after the situation improves, the government will “ease off and go back to the baseline precautions.”
“Everyone has to play a part”: PM Lee
He also reminded the public that in such a crisis “everyone has to play a part.”
“When we made direct appeals to Singaporeans, for example, only wear face masks when unwell; or not to worry about our supermarkets running out of food or household items, people accepted our reassurances, and behaviour change,” Mr Lee said, adding that he is grateful that most Singaporeans are responding calmly and responsibly towards the situation.
“We will remain in this high-risk state, nevertheless, for some time to come. But if we keep up our guard, and take practical precautions to protect ourselves and our families, we will be able to keep our economy going, and carry on with our daily lives.”