Be vigilant and do the right thing, PM Lee urges S’poreans
As circuit breaker ends, he warns that Covid-19 battle will be ‘a marathon, not a sprint’
Dealing with the coronavirus pandemic is “a marathon, not a sprint”, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong yesterday as he urged people to remain cautious and vigilant.
On the eve of the lifting of some circuit breaker measures today, PM Lee warned that Covid-19 is far from defeated despite a considerable drop in the number of daily cases in the community.
While noting that many are looking forward to seeing their friends again, or visiting parents and grandparents, he urged them to keep their guard up.
“Maintain safe distancing, wear masks when outdoors and at work, watch your personal hygiene and wash hands frequently. Avoid crowds and gatherings,” PM Lee reminded Singaporeans in his Facebook post. “If we all do this, then life can go on more or less normally after the circuit breaker.
“We don’t want Covid-19 cases to spike up again, and be forced to tighten up once more,” he added.
Likening the battle against the pandemic to a marathon, he said that even after a vaccine is found, everything will not go back to the way it was before.
“Covid-19 has exposed how vulnerable our way of life is. But it has also given us the opportunity to prove our mettle and come back stronger,” he added.
Meanwhile, face shields can no longer be worn in place of face masks from today, after the multi-ministry task force on Covid-19 decided they are not as effective as masks in reducing the risk of virus transmission.
Health Minister Gan Kim Yong said at a virtual press conference yesterday: “We know that Covid-19 is spread predominantly through droplets.
“While face shields may provide some protection, the design of face shields typically leaves a gap between the face and the shield, which means the wearer could still be depositing droplets. This is unlike masks.”
An infected person wearing a face shield would be more likely to spread the virus to other people, compared with someone wearing a face mask, he added.
Only specific groups are al lowed to wear face shields as they are exempted from using face masks in settings where masks may not be practical.
- Children aged 12 and below, who may have difficulty wearing face masks for a prolonged period
- People with medical conditions who may experience breathing or other difficulties when wearing masks for a prolonged period
- Teachers who may find wearing a mask impractical while teaching and are able to maintain a safe distance from others
Mr Gan said face shields may be worn on top of a mask to provide additional protection, especially to the eyes, which are exposed to virus particles when wearing face masks.
While face shields were earlier allowed to be worn in place of face masks, he said the policy was reviewed in line with the partial lifting of the circuit breaker from today, which would lead to more contact between people.
While acknowledging people such as hawkers may find it uncomfortable to wear masks for long periods, Mr Gan said it is important to understand the reason that masks should be the default.
“This is to protect individuals and to protect your loved ones, and to protect your friends or your co-workers that are around you, and also to protect the customers you are serving,” he said.
The Health Ministry’s director of medical services, Associate Professor Kenneth Mak, said enforcement officers will be flexible initially in enforcing the wearing of masks as the aim is to educate and encourage people to do the right thing.
“But certainly, we will identify people who are recalcitrant, who are not wearing masks when they should be wearing masks,” he added.
Mr Gan urged people to continue staying at home and go out only for activities such as work or buying of essential items.
“As there would be fewer restrictions when the circuit breaker comes to an end, the role of individuals will become even more critical,” he said.
“If each of us play our part, act responsibly, we can keep the community transmission low and move together safely towards a new normal.”