Singapore speeding up COVID-19 vaccination before re-opening border

by BERNAMA / pic by TMR FILE

SINGAPORE – Singapore’s priority now is to speed up COVID-19 vaccinations before re-opening its border, an important part of the republic’s recovery process, according to Finance Minister Lawrence Wong.

“This is an existential issue for Singapore, because we survive and thrive on our ability to connect businesses and people to the region and the world,” said Wong in his ministerial statement on COVID-19 support measures at Parliament yesterday.

Wong who is also the co-chair of the Multi-Ministry Taskforce (MTF) on COVID-19 said that there has been feedback from the business and investment community that Singapore might lose out to other hubs that have been moving more aggressively to re-open their borders.

“We understand the concerns. But we are also very mindful that if we re-open prematurely before we reach high-enough vaccination rates, we could end up with another wave of infections, and a surge in hospitalisation and intensive care unit (ICU) cases,” he said.

According to Wong, Singapore has the ability to reach a very high level of vaccination coverage in the next one to two months.

“This will enable us to progressively re-open and re-connect with the world,” he said.

Wong noted that Singapore is making “steady progress” towards its “ambitious target” to fully vaccinate two-thirds of its population by National Day of Aug 9.

As of July 3, 2021, Singapore has administered a total of 5,706,932 doses of COVID19 vaccines under the national vaccination programme.

The total number of doses administered was 5,706,932, covering 3,550,181 individuals while 2,156,751 individuals have received their second dose and completed the full vaccination regimen.

In his ministerial statement, Wong also announced an additional support measures worth S$1.2 billion which he said will be funded using resources approved in this year’s Budget.

Wong explained that the ministry is seeking a reallocation of monies from the Budget to fund the support package.

Singapore which is currently preparing a roadmap for the country to transit to a scenario where it learns to live normally with COVID-19, expects to open up further from 12 July to allow larger groups of five people to dine together.

The republic is now at “Phase 3 (Heightened Alert)” of re-opening of its economy and social activities.

Under that re-opening phase, among others, higher-risk activities such as dining-in at food & beverage (F&B) establishments and indoor mask-off sports or exercise will only allow a group size of up to two persons.

Barring unforeseen circumstances, Wong noted that the ministry continues to expect gross domestic product (GDP) growth of at least 4.0 to 6.0 per cent this year.