Community cases can go either way over next few weeks: Minister
Lawrence Wong says there is chance of getting the situation under control by end of the month, but one lapse could lead to a super-spreader event
Singapore is on a knife-edge, and the country's Covid-19 community case numbers can go either way over the next few weeks, said Education Minister Lawrence Wong yesterday, as he urged people to continue observing safety measures and get vaccinated.
"We have a chance of getting things under control by the end of the month," he said.
"But as we know from experience, it only takes one lapse or one irresponsible action for an infection to spread; and that infection may end up being a super-spreader event in the community."
His comments came amid a worrying increase in cases here, with 13 new community cases yesterday and 11 open clusters.
At least 10 different virus variants have infiltrated the Republic, and some of these could be driving infections here.
Vaccines are key to ending the pandemic, Mr Wong stressed.
With close to two million residents having received at least their first shot, vaccination will be extended to younger people from later this month, said Health Minister Gan Kim Yong, who co-chairs the multi-ministry task force on Covid-19 with Mr Wong.
Both ministers were updating Parliament on the virus situation here. In response to the increased infections, Singapore has tightened its borders and rules on social gatherings since last Saturday, a day before Mother's Day, and ahead of Hari Raya Aidilfitri tomorrow and Vesak Day on May 26.
Mr Wong acknowledged that the safety measures, which include tighter restrictions on social gatherings and household visits, will pose "considerable inconvenience".
He said: "I thank everyone for taking (the latest measures) in your stride and I seek your cooperation to abide by them - not just with the letter of the law but also the spirit of it."
About 1.8 million individuals here have received at least one dose of the vaccine as at Sunday, revealed Mr Gan. Of this number, about 1.2 million people have received their second and final dose.
Also, two in three people who are aged 45 and older and are eligible have received their shots, or booked their vaccination appointments. But this is not enough.
"Take-up has been encouraging... However, we need to continue to encourage more to be vaccinated, especially among the seniors. Given their age, they are the most vulnerable," Mr Gan said.
He also said there have been 104 applications for financial assistance for those suffering from serious side effects related to the vaccines, as at May 3.
Of these, 30 qualified for compensation, 45 applications were rejected and the remaining 29 are still pending.
With the pandemic still raging in many parts of the world, the fight against Covid-19 will continue for a while yet, he said.
"Our response has not always been perfect. But we have built many new capabilities to meet the new challenges as they emerge," he said.