Singapore

Take precautions as you celebrate Chinese New Year: PM Lee

Singapore risks reverting to situation last year if new clusters emerge, he says

Singaporeans have to take precautions as they celebrate the upcoming Chinese New Year amid the coronavirus pandemic, to guard against the risk of new clusters forming, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said yesterday.

On his part, he will be having a small celebration at home.

PM Lee said: "I am going to do my usual visits to essential workers who are still working away during this period... Then I will celebrate Chinese New Year with eight visitors - not more - from the family."

Speaking to reporters during a visit to Ang Mo Kio Polyclinic, where vaccinations for seniors aged 70 and above kicked off yesterday, PM Lee stressed there remains a danger of a superspreader event occurring during the new year festivities.

The Government is able to keep things under control if one or two cases emerge, he added. But if a few dozen clusters emerge, there is a very real risk Singapore may go back to the situation in March and April last year, when cases spiked.

"We had to lock down with a circuit breaker, and that's a very high and disruptive cost for all of us in Singapore to pay."

Rather than take that risk, Singaporeans can restrain themselves and celebrate Chinese New Year differently this year to keep Singapore safe, PM Lee added.

Under new measures announced by the Covid-19 multi-ministry task force, up to only eight visitors are allowed per household each day. Individuals are advised to visit a maximum of two households daily.

Diners should also avoid shouting auspicious phrases when engaging in the tossing of yusheng, or during lohei.

PM Lee said: "When you lohei, please do it in your hearts. If you must have the sound, there are very good apps - you press the button and they will say the right words for you."

He said he hopes everybody will understand that this will not be a normal Year of the Ox.

"Celebrate it in the right spirit, but keep ourselves safe so that perhaps a year from now, when the Year of the Tiger comes around, we would be roaring like a tiger."

PM Lee, who received the first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine on Jan 8, said he would be receiving the second dose tomorrow.

Apart from his arm feeling slightly sore for the first two days, he did not have any side effects.

President Halimah Yacob also got the jab on the sidelines of a visit to Outram Polyclinic yesterday.

Madam Halimah said the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore's position is that Covid-19 vaccines are permissible for Muslim use.

coronavirus