Singapore—The country’s new strategies on living with Covid, as outlined by the multi-ministry task force, is receiving attention from other countries, some for good, while others have raised eyebrows on this topic.
A July 4 article in the US SUN noted this new approach, noting that Singapore will become one of the first nations to stop counting Covid cases because it plans to treat virus “like the flu.” But, some doctors here and abroad have said that it is too early to make a call.
The article noted Singapore’s low death rate and the government’s “draconian rules to curb the infection rate,” adding that it’s now getting ready to end these measures, including no longer counting daily infections.
Last month, Ministers Gan Kim Yong, Lawrence Wong, and Ong Ye Kung laid out the roadmap for “living normally with Covid-19,” noting the “bad news” that Covid-19 may never go away as the virus would continue to mutate, yet the government is planning on not reporting the daily counts.
Vaccinations, testing (including self-testing), contact tracing and social responsibility are to become part of everyday experiences, as people get on with their lives instead of having to live with restrictions.
The Government has even come up with yet another upbeat song to underline this.
Buckle up Singapore, here’s a brand new safety video to get everyone ready for a whole new normal! #TestTraceVaccinate
— Singapore Government (@govsingapore) July 2, 2021
In a letter published on June 24 in The Straits Times, the Ministers wrote, “Instead of monitoring Covid-19 infection numbers every day, we will focus on the outcomes.
How many fall very sick, how many in the intensive care unit, how many need to be intubated for oxygen, and so on. This is like how we now monitor influenza.
We can’t eradicate it, but we can turn the pandemic into something much less threatening, like influenza, hand, foot and mouth disease, or chickenpox, and get on with our lives.”
The most important thrust at the moment is to vaccinate as many people as possible, with the goal of having two-thirds of the population fully vaccinated by National Day.
“Singapore’s proposal could be an early sign of the world starting to live with Covid after more than a year of restrictions across the globe,” the Sun added.
The US Sun also noted that there is similar thinking in the United Kingdom, with health secretary Sajid Javid saying that Britain will have to “learn to live with Covid.”
Mr Javid has said that he intends for Britain to be the “most open country in Europe,” and has encouraged as many people to get their vaccine shots as soon as possible, calling the vaccination programme “the single biggest contribution you can make to this national effort”.
However, this comes even as some scientists have warned that unvaccinated people are “variant factories” and that because of this, the pandemic, along with its restrictions could be prolonged.
The World Health Organisation recently cautioned that mutations of the virus are cropping up faster than the drive to vaccinate people, and the very small rate of vaccinated persons in developing nations is worrying to experts.
Should virus mutations prove to be resistant to vaccines, countries may find themselves in even stricter lockdowns than before. So, is the government doing the right thing?