The Government is making preparations to ease Singapore into Phase 3 with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (PM Lee) saying in a televised national address that as of 28 December, Singapore will be lifted from Phase 2 restrictions.
With Phase 3, the permitted group size for social gatherings will go up from five to eight, with capacity limits in public places such as malls, attractions and places of worship to be increased.
In addition, it has been reported that Singapore is set to permit some businesses, official and other “high economic value” travellers from around the world to enter the country under a “bubble” arrangement in preparation for the annual World Economic Forum (WEF) in May 2021. While the WEF is usually held in the world-famous Swiss ski resort of Davos, it will be held in Singapore instead of Switzerland next yearn due to coronavirus concerns.
While nabbing the rights to hold the Davos summit is a huge coup, is Singapore really ready to throw open its doors?
While Singapore is reporting low daily “community” cases, it has been revealed via the international media that the COVID-19 cases among our migrant workers are at least three times higher than what was actually reported. A rights group has said it is “unsurprised” after it was reported that almost half of Singapore’s migrant workers have been infected with Covid-19 in the past nine months. Yet, this is not something that our mainstream media have reported.
According to the BBC, new data shows that 152,000 foreign workers – 47% – have been infected. Without including the migrant worker infections, fewer than 4,000 people have tested positive in Singapore.
A large part of why there are so many migrant worker infections has been attributed to their tight living quarters and logistical difficulties in self-isolating. In other words, close proximity and interaction with people who might carry the virus are a big contributor to the spread.
With the WEF, there will be large numbers of people entering Singapore. Singapore is a small country that is densely populated. Is it really wise to throw open our doors to so many people coming in at a time when we may just be starting to turn the corner in terms of virus containment?
While the Government will, of course, put safeguards in place, these safeguards do not appear to be fool proof. Let’s just take the cruise ship debacle where an old man was said to have the virus only to be clear yet again in a few days as an example.
Opening up the country to such a huge summit like Davos could also endanger public health. Is this really something that the Government is prepared to risk?