Singapore must press on with “living with Covid-19” strategy, PM Lee

SINGAPORE • Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong today said the republic must press on with its strategy of “Living with COVID-19”.

“We should respect COVID-19, but we must not be paralysed by fear. Let us go about our daily activities as normally as possible, taking necessary precautions and complying with SMMs (Safe Management Measures),” he said while addressing the nation on the current COVID-19 situation.

Lee noted that “Living with COVID-19” has not been a smooth and easy journey for Singapore.

The prime minister recalled that in August, after reaching 80 per cent vaccinations, the republic eased up the Heightened Alert.

“We expected cases to go up, as more people resumed activities and interacted with one another. But the numbers went up more sharply than we had anticipated, because the Delta variant was so infectious,” he said.

The prime minister noted that the next few months “will be trying” for the republic as daily cases were expected to continue rising for some weeks.

“Our healthcare system will still be under pressure. We can slow, but we cannot stop the Delta variant,” he said.

Lee said at some point, the surge will level off, and cases will start to decline.

“We don’t know exactly when, but from the experience of other countries, hopefully within a month or so.

After the surge stabilises, Lee said Singapore might still see future surges, especially if new variants emerge and might have to tap “the brakes” again if cases again grow too fast, to protect its healthcare system and healthcare workers.

“But we will be better able to cope with future surges. Our capacity and processes continue to improve. As more people are exposed to the virus and recover, our immunity levels will increase, and COVID-19 will spread less quickly among us.

On how will Singapore know when it gets to the new normal, Lee said that : “It will be when we can ease off restrictions, have just light SMMs in place, and cases remain stable – perhaps hundreds a day, but not growing.”

“When our hospitals can go back to business as usual. When we can resume doing the things we used to do, and see crowds again without getting worried or feeling strange,” he added.

As at noon Oct 8, Singapore reported 3,590 new cases of COVID-19 infection bringing the total caseload for the republic to 120,454.

Meanwhile, as of Oct 7, 83 per cent of the Singapore population has completed their full regimen or received two doses of COVID-19 vaccines.