As World Health Organization (WHO) declared Covid-19 outbreak as a pandemic, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong cautioned that the nation should not be complacent and be prepared for a possible spike of Covid-19 cases though the situation in Singapore still remains under control.
PM Lee delivered an update on Covid-19 situation in Singapore on Thursday evening (12 March), urging the people to make baseline precautions as a habit, such as practice good personal hygiene and not holding large gatherings.
Referring to the two new Covid-19 cases involving Singaporeans who attended a mass religious gathering at a mosque in Kuala Lumpur, PM Lee said that Singaporeans should adopt precautions before attending any gatherings including religious events.
He hoped that Singaporeans will understand and support practical measures during this tough period by reducing the number of congregants or shortening sermons in places of worship as a means to protect the health and safety of devotees.
“In South Korea, the cases spread through the Shincheonji church group. In Singapore, two of our big clusters happened in church groups … The issue is of course not religion itself, but that the virus can spread quickly to many people in crowded settings, like religious gatherings and services.
“That is why Saudi Arabia temporarily stopped umrah pilgrimages and the Pope live-streamed his sermons to avoid crowds on Saint Peter’s Square,” PM Lee said in the broadcast.
In the event of a spike in Covid-19 cases, PM Lee said that the more stringent social distancing measures such as suspending school, staggering work hours, or compulsory telecommuting may also be put in place.
He added that these measures will serve as extra “brake” to slow down the transmission rate of the virus, prevent our healthcare system from being overwhelmed, and help reduce the numbers of infections.
As the country’s economy has been hit-hard by Covid-19 outbreak, the prime minister said that the government will support businesses and workers, particularly gig workers and the self-employed, throughout the outbreak by rolling out a second stimulus package.
He noted, “The latest COVID-19 situation is a test of our psychological resilience,” while adding that frontline workers — healthcare workers, immigration officers, civil servants, public transport workers, taxi drivers, cleaning staff — are giving their “full dedication” in carrying out their duties to the public.
On top of assuring Singapore’s situation is under control, PM Lee also said that Singapore is “not going to DORSCON Red” despite the concerns of Covid-19 widespread globally.
“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,” he added.
Netizens give mixed reactions toward PM Lee’s remark
Upon hearing PM Lee’s remark on the Covid-19 situation in Singapore, many netizens applauded and showed appreciation to the government for delivering a clear message of what’s going on in the country.
Even some netizens, who seems to be from overseas, commented on the Facebook page of the Prime Minister, stating that Singapore may become a good role model of other countries in dealing with the coronavirus crisis.
One netizen cited her depressing situation in France, saying that the Singapore government takes care of the welfare of its people better than other countries, yet still some Singaporeans complained about government as she described as the people are “living in happiness but doesn’t realise it”.
A few netizens opined that the government’s quick response over the coronavirus outbreak as well as the announcement of WHO declaring a pandemic is timely as it is able to prevent the rise of fear among the public which may lead to another stockpiling situation.
To strengthen the defence against coronavirus, most of the netizens agreed that Singaporeans should unite together and “be considerate and socially responsible” such as maintain good personal hygiene, reduce organising gatherings and events, wear a mask, and see a doctor if feeling unwell.
Meanwhile, some netizens raised their concerns over the importance of masks amid the coronavirus outbreak. They suggested revising or implementing a new measure to encourage people to put on a mask.
With the good intention of tackling the coronavirus outbreak, several netizens also provided a few suggestions on what can be done to limit the spread, such as cancelling National Day celebrations to channel the money for those in need, focus on developing new vaccines, and optimise the usage of digital technology.
At the same time, some netizens requested the government to take measures on the rising rate of unemployment and economy damage from coronavirus.