Border controls might be ineffective: MTF
Border controls may soon become less effective as it will be impossible to identify a clear epidemic centre outside of Singapore
Border controls might soon become less relevant as a means of contamination control, said the multi-ministry task force for Covid-19.
At a press conference held at the Ministry of Communications and Information on Friday (March 6), co-chair of the task force, Mr Lawrence Wong said that border controls will become less effective because it will become impossible to identify a clear epidemic centre outside of Singapore anymore.
He said: “We were still able to do it — after China, we have identified a few countries — but increasingly it will be harder and harder to do because the virus is everywhere.
“You cannot identify clear epidemic centres to stop the number of imported cases; there will be undetected cases everywhere in the world, and we do not isolate and shut ourselves from the world.”
Mr Wong, who is also the National Development Minister, said that this is why Singapore needs to step up national measures for infection control, by building up defensive systems such as hygiene standards.
He added: “With all of these measures, even if we have more imported cases, we hope we will be able to slow down the spread of the virus and continue to contain the spread within Singapore itself.”
As community spread of the Covid-19 virus continues to persist in Singapore, a multi-agency task force is formed to raise hygiene standards in public spaces at a whole-of-nation level.
SG Clean Taskforce, headed by Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli, seeks to drive collective action on ensuring the cleanliness of public spaces, encourage good personal hygiene, and adjust social norms to reduce the spread of diseases.
Mr Masagos said at a press conference on Friday (March 6) that while the spread of the virus via environmental contact is a risk, keeping public high-touch-point areas disinfected is doable, thus keeping such spaces clean is a priority.
The task force, along with representatives from various ministries, builds on and consolidates the work already started by the SG Clean campaign.
Launched on Feb 16, the SG Clean campaign seeks to raise cleanliness and safeguard public health amid the coronavirus outbreak.
Hawker centres and food stalls will get the SG Clean quality mark, which indicates the sanitisation and hygiene of a given premise.
It requires organisations to commit to sector-specific sanitation and hygiene checklists.
The National Environment Agency (NEA) and the Singapore Food Agency have been working with hawker centres and coffee shops to be part of the certification programme.
To date, 1,907 hawker and market stalls and 345 coffee shops have been awarded the SG Clean quality mark.
Additionally, 13 hawker centres and 49 coffee shops have also been awarded under the programme.
Beyond food places, other agencies such as Enterprise Singapore, Singapore Tourism Board, Land Transport Authority, the Early Childhood Development Agency, the Ministry of Education, and the Ministry of Transport have also been working with NEA to audit the hygiene and sanitation of their respective premises and related spaces.
These include areas with high human traffic and service more vulnerable segments of society, such as retail, hospitality, transport nodes, educational institutions and preschools.
Said MEWR: “NEA aims to roll out the SG Clean certification programme to premises with high human traffic and more vulnerable segments of the population by the end of 2020.”
Later this year, the ministry will also make amendments to the Environmental Public Health Act to institutionalise mandatory processes to uphold high levels of hygiene and cleanliness.
Mandatory cleaning standards will be introduced, including a set of standards to regulate the frequency of cleaning and disinfection of high contact areas, in particular toilets, pest management, including a mosquito control regime and back-of-house waste management such as bin centres.
Premise managers will also have to take on greater responsibility. They will be required to submit and implement an environmental sanitation programme and remedy any lapses.
They will also be required to designate a trained person to help them develop and implement the environmental sanitation programme.
The new requirements will be gradually rolled out from 2021, starting with higher risk premises such as preschools and eldercare facilities.