PM Lee: Circuit breaker extended to June 1, with tougher measures
PM Lee says migrant workers will be cared for, urges support for tighter measures to fight virus
Most Singaporeans have played their part to help stem the spread of Covid-19, complying with circuit breaker measures to stay home, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said yesterday.
As a result, the daily number of new cases in the local community has dropped to less than 30.
However, the total cases have increased sharply, with the majority made up of migrant workers.
Singapore now has the highest number of confirmed coronavirus infections in South-east Asia, with more than 9,000 cases as of yesterday.
Most of the migrant worker cases in the dormitories are mild, with few needing intensive care.
But more medical personnel and resources will be deployed at the dorms, with special attention for the older, more vulnerable ones, said Mr Lee.
"To our migrant workers, let me emphasise again: We will care for you, just like we care for Singaporeans," he added.
Mr Lee, who was making his fourth national address during the coronavirus crisis, said that as for the wider community, more must be done to bring the daily infections down to single digits.
"We must all hunker down and press on with our tight circuit breaker measures," said Mr Lee, who announced that the circuit breaker period will be extended for another month until June 1, with existing measures tightened until May 4.
The circuit breaker was implemented two weeks ago on April 7, and was initially scheduled to end on May 4.
Mr Lee said that if the local community numbers are brought down after May 4, then some measures may be eased during the extended circuit breaker period from May 5 to June 1.
"Many will be disappointed by the extension of the circuit breaker," he said. "This short-term pain is to stamp out the virus, protect the health and safety of our loved ones, and allow us to revive our economy."
Mr Lee said there are three things Singapore needs to do to exit from the circuit breaker.
The first is to open up incrementally, making sure that it is safe to do so at every step and preventing the need for a repeat of such a period.
The second is to scale up testing, so that new cases can be quickly detected. This will involve getting more test kits and making our own.
The third is to make full use of technology to do contact tracing more effectively.
Apps, like the Government Technology Agency's TraceTogether app, are being developed for this purpose, Mr Lee said.
But he stressed that people must install and use these apps for them to work.
"There will be some privacy concerns, but we will have to weigh these against the benefits of being able to exit from the circuit breaker and stay open safely," he added.
Singapore must also keep working to reduce the number of unlinked cases, he said.
"Unfortunately, that number has not come down," Mr Lee said. "And this suggests there is a larger, hidden reservoir of cases in the community that is the source of these unlinked cases, which we have not detected."
Mr Lee added that no one knows how long the pandemic will last, but that it would likely take more than a year before vaccines become available.
"I ask for your support and cooperation. I ask for your trust and confidence," he said.
"Let us go all out to beat the virus, and break the chain of transmission. We will overcome this together."
FOR MORE, READ THE STRAITS TIMES.