Jump in community cases partly due to stepped-up testing: Minister
New daily cases within expectations and situation remains under control: Wong
Community cases have increased a week after the end of Singapore's circuit breaker period, but the situation remains under control, said Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong yesterday.
The jump in cases are partly due to a stepped-up testing regime, and the new daily cases are within expectations, said Mr Wong, who co-chairs the multi-ministry task force tackling Covid-19 along with Health Minister Gan Kim Yong
During a virtual press conference yesterday, Mr Gan added that the increase in cases meant it was important to maintain basic hygiene practices and precautions, and to ring-fence cases quickly with timely contact tracing so that large clusters do not form.
ACTIVE CASE FINDING
"Some worry that the cases in the community have risen quickly after the reopening. In fact, many of the community cases we have seen in the past week were due to active case finding as we proactively conduct surveillance to test on our target groups," he said, adding that these groups include residents of homes for seniors and pre-school staff.
Community transmission remained a concern, said the Ministry of Health's director of medical services Kenneth Mak.
"Just as we let more people come out of their homes, going to work, going about their business, it's still important to remember that we should limit travel outside our home and continue doing that only for necessary purposes."
Yesterday, Mr Wong also responded to suggestions on a possible inconsistency on safe distancing rules when contact with other commuters on public transport is deemed acceptable during phase one, yet more meetings between family members are not allowed.
He said he understood why such comparisons are being made but said that the settings and risks in the two cases are very different.
In phase one of Singapore's reopening, people are allowed to visit their parents or grandparents, but they can receive up to only two visitors from the same household once a day. Other non-essential activities and social gatherings continue to be prohibited.
When more people use public transport as they go back to workplaces and schools, it will be difficult, and potentially impossible, to maintain safe distances, said Mr Wong.
That is why other precautions must be taken, such as wearing of masks, requiring people not to talk on buses and trains and stepping up cleaning regimes.
"In any case the public transport journeys are not long. These are transient risks, but with these additional precautions, we are able to minimise the risk further.
"But social interactions are of a different magnitude of risk altogether. When we gather together whether to talk, to interact, to have a meal together, the risks are much higher," Mr Wong said.
He urged Singaporeans not to "exploit each and every rule to the fullest possible degree".
The authorities will continue to monitor the situation over the coming week, and decide by the middle of June whether to move to phase two, where more activities will be allowed to resume