Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong posted a message on his Facebook page yesterday (8 Apr) saying that his Cabinet still had to meet amidst the “circuit breaker” measures kicking in.
“But we separated into two locations, connected via teleconferencing. We also spaced out to maintain safe distancing, and wore masks to keep our droplets to ourselves,” he said.
He asked Singaporeans to “observe the circuit breaker measures strictly”.
“Stay at home, except when you have to go out to do essential work or buy food. If you need to go to the market, stagger your timing too. Avoid being part of the crowd. This is not a month long holiday, when we can go out for jalan jalan or to meet up with friends,” he added.
“Please do your part.”
PM Lee’s government makes a “U-turn”
Up till last Thu (2 Apr), the Singapore government’s stance was to want everyone not to wear masks if they are well (‘COVID-19: PM Lee says govt will not discourage people from wearing masks, contrary to previous advisory‘).
In an apparent “U-turn” last Fri (3 Apr), PM Lee announced in a televised address that the authorities will “no longer discourage people from wearing masks”.
He said the government’s reason for advising the general public to only wear such masks if they are unwell was based on “scientific advice and guidelines” from the World Health Organization (WHO). In other words, his government was merely following WHO’s advice.
Additionally, there were no instances of community spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in Singapore initially, he noted. “It was very unlikely for you to run into anyone with COVID-19 on the street, much less be infected by them,” said PM Lee.
Presently, however, he said that the government is concerned about “some cases out there community going undetected” even if there are few of them.
“We also now have evidence that an infected person can show no symptoms, and yet still pass on the virus to others,” he said. “This is why the WHO is reviewing the issue of face masks, and so is the US CDC.”
“Therefore we will no longer discourage people from wearing masks,” said PM Lee.
Still countries like Taiwan, China and South Korea seemed to have ignored WHO’s advice and urged their citizens to wear masks from day one.
It’s not known how many of the “unlinked” COVID-19 cases in Singapore over the last couple of months were due to people not wearing masks.
In any case, PM Lee now seems to be doing more than just “no longer” discouraging people from wearing masks. He wants everyone to wear masks, judging from the photo of his Cabinet meeting posted on his Facebook page.