Dear Singaporeans, ICYMI: PM Lee just spoke on the current COVID-19 situation, Singapore’s strategy, and our path to a new normal

PM speech

TL;DR – Let each of us be the first line of defence, and protect our vulnerable and our healthcare workers. Unity of purpose and hearts is crucial!

“Wah, lai liao.”

“Time to chiong FairPrice.”

“Sheng Shiong stocks going up again.”

Last evening, as Singaporeans were getting ready to wrap work in the evening, phones started buzzing with messages.

Apparently, PM Lee had just shared that he would be addressing Singaporeans on Saturday at noon. Remember? Just not too long ago, that was the code for Singaporeans to “chiong FairPrice”. Yesterday though, PM Lee added, “Please carry on as per normal — there is no need to rush out to stock up on items or dine out!” LOL, cute leh, our PM also know Singaporeans’ pattern!

PM Lee has just delivered his speech earlier. During uncertain times as now, am sure all of us appreciate the open communication. From the hard truths, what to expect, plans our Government have in the coming days, and how all of us can play our part in the new normal… I don’t know about you, but I’m certainly feeling more assured after PM’s sharing!

ICYMI, here are PM Lee’s main messages:

Thanks to a nation’s trust and cooperation, we now have one of the highest vaccination rates in the world.

Our vaccination rate is at almost 85% – this has greatly enhanced our protection against the virus. Data clearly show that vaccination sharply reduces the risk of serious illness. 98% have mild or no symptoms.

Vaccination

Our vaccination rate is at almost 85%. (via)

 

Changed Situation – A “Zero COVID” strategy is no longer feasible

Vaccination has proved only partially effective in preventing us from getting infected, albeit mildly. Even with the whole population vaccinated, we still will not be able to stamp it out through lockdowns and SMMs. Staying locked down indefinitely wouldn’t be effective and will be very, very costly.

Change our mindsets: Think of COVID-19 as a treatable, mild disease

We must press on with our strategy of “Living with COVID-19”. To start with, and most fundamentally, we need to update our mindset. Now that most of us are protected through vaccination, we should think of COVID-19 as a treatable, mild disease. The real threat of COVID-19 is now mainly to seniors, we must protect them. So for most of us, if we catch COVID-19, we can recover by ourselves at home. Home Recovery will be the norm.

Yes, there were shortcomings in service delivery of Home Recovery earlier.

We will get the care and support we need throughout our home recovery journey. PM Lee acknowledged that there were shortcomings in our service delivery earlier, but the Government is working hard and putting things right. No more complicated flow charts 😊 The Government will make sure that people are clear what they need to do, and what they can do themselves so we can play our parts.

Remove the perception that COVID-19 is a scary disease.

We must learn not to develop a phobia of COVID-19. We should go about our daily activities as normally as possible, taking the necessary precautions.

Help keep everyone safe, especially the vulnerable groups.

We have one of the lowest death rates in the world. But sadly, that has still meant 133 deaths so far – nearly all were elderly, and with pre-existing medical conditions. Sooner or later, every one of us will meet the virus. Unfortunately, despite doctors and nurses’ best efforts, some will succumb. Singapore is building up our healthcare facilities to be able to provide those seriously ill the medical care they need.

For the unvaccinated elderly, we will continue efforts to vaccinate them. Seniors themselves should take extra precautions. Minimise makan, kopi and beer sessions for now, PM advised. 😊 For children under 12, the Government is closely tracking the progress of vaccine trials on children in the US. We will start vaccinating children as soon as vaccines are approved for children, and our experts are satisfied that they are safe. 

Children in school

For children under 12, the Government is closely tracking the progress of vaccine trials on children in the US. (via)

 

We must plug ourselves back into the world.

We must continue to re-open our borders safely. For companies and investors, for people who beed to travel to earn a living, for students who need to go on overseas attachments and internships, for families and friends to reunite…

Pilot projects have shown it is possible for vaccinated persons to travel safely, while letting in very few COVID-19 positive cases! We need to preserve Singapore’s hub status and keep us connected to global supply chains. This is important.

But cases will continue to rise for a while more.

The next few months will be trying. Daily cases are expected to continue rising for some weeks. Our healthcare system will still be under strain. We can slow, but we cannot stop the Delta strain. But at some point, cases will start to decline. As pressure on the healthcare system eases off, we can relax restrictions, and ease out of the stabilisation phase but we will have to do so cautiously.

We must protect our healthcare system and our healthcare workers AT ALL COSTS.

PM Lee thanked and acknowledged our healthcare workers for the heavy load that they bear as we go through perhaps the most difficult phase of our journey. He promised that the Government will do all they can to protect and support our healthcare workers and system as we go through this wave!

It may not seem so, but we are making steady progress towards the new normal!

We are making steady progress towards the new normal. Yes, even when it doesn’t seem that way. We may still see future surges, we may have to tap on the brakes again, whenever cases grow too fast. But we will be better able to manage any future surges.

As PM Lee shared, Singapore has the resources, the determination, and the courage to get through this crisis. We have stayed united and resolute despite the difficulties. Our healthcare workers are doing their best, and more, for us. Let’s also do our parts! Abide by prevailing SMMs, and cut back on social activities, get vaccinated, go for booster shot when our turns come. Self-test regularly, so we can avoid infecting others. Let each of us be the first line of defence, protect our healthcare workers so they can protect us. The battles continues but with each passing day, we are getting stronger and more resilient.

With everyone’s cooperation, we will put the pandemic behind us, hopefully soon! Now, this is not a sprint. If you ask me, to battle COVID-19 for the long run, all of us need to change our mindsets. Less of finger-pointing and playing the blame game, more of social responsibility, understanding and being flexible in adapting to fast-changing situations. Afterall, this is an unprecedented crisis, and we are all in this together.

*Full speech here

 

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Gabrielle Teo

Author Gabrielle Teo

I read lots, and I also spend an indecent amount of time trying to get my mostly unpopular opinions published. Oh, I argue a lot with fellow Singaporeans who complain incessantly about Singapore too.

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