Following the incident of an 83-year-old passenger of the Royal Caribbean cruise ship being tested positive for COVID-19, Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing said that the incident was “not unexpected” as the Government had anticipated the possibility of such an incident happening and that they have subsequently put in place the necessary protocols.
Mr Chan told reporters on the sidelines of his visit to the Siemens Advanced Manufacturing Transformation Centre on Wednesday that it is “precisely because we were concerned that such things may happen, we have put in place the necessary protocols”.
He added that the Government has “never thought that such things will never happen” when it embarked on this pilot scheme.
In fact, the Government has “always made the assumption that someday, something may happen”, said Mr Chan.
It is thus important to have protocols to ensure that they are able to “contact trace quickly, isolate the cases necessary, and for the rest of the activities to continue” if such incidents happen, he highlighted.
“With the protocols that have been put in place, the public can be assured that such incidents can be managed properly,” he remarked.
As part of Singapore Tourism Board (STB)’s safe cruise pilot scheme, the Royal Caribbean ship was originally set for a four-day cruise to nowhere.
However, the journey was cut short after the passenger was tested positive for the coronavirus on day three.
The passenger was immediately isolated while all the guests and crew on the ship who had close contact with the passenger had been isolated, and their test results all came out negative.
While the passenger’s close contacts have since been tested negative for COVID-19, further contact tracing is ongoing.
Speaking to the media, Mr Chan also said that the incident happened on the Royal Caribbean cruise ship is “an example of how Singapore will manage risks that emerge from the resumption of economic activities”.
“As we recover from the pandemic, as we resume our economic activities, we work on the basis of a risk management strategy, rather than risk elimination strategy … Zero risk means not to do anything. And that would not be compatible with our overall strategy,” he asserted.
Upon reading the remarks by Mr Chan, the netizens were quick to pen their comments on CNA’s Facebook page, condemning the Government for potentially putting people’s lives at risk by treating people like their case studies.
“You know something might happen, but you use Singaporean’s health and lives as a trade-off,” a netizen wrote.
Some netizens also opined that it is “not unexpected” for the Minister to offer such a response.
“Not unexpected, brilliantly phrased to deflect responsibility,” said a netizen.
Other netizens also expressed scepticism about the Government’s risk assessment and protocols before they decided to implement this pilot cruise programme. They questioned how the passenger was able to contract COVID-19 if the necessary protocols have been implemented.