Last month (24 Jun), ministers Gan Kim Yong, Lawrence Wong and Ong Ye Kung drew a new roadmap for Singaporeans to live with Covid-19. They want Singaporeans to deal with Covid-19 as part of their daily lives.
That is to say, people will go to work, travel and shop without quarantines and lockdowns, even with the coronavirus in their midst.
With enough people vaccinated, Covid-19 will be managed like other endemic diseases such as the common flu, said the three ministers, who co-chair the multi-ministry task force on Covid-19.
“The bad news is that Covid-19 may never go away. The good news is that it is possible to live normally with it in our midst,” they said. “Our next milestone will be to have at least two-thirds of our population fully vaccinated with two doses around National Day.”
In time, said the ministers, people with Covid-19 will be allowed to recover at home, so there will be less concern about the healthcare system being stressed. Their close contacts can buy test kits from pharmacies to test themselves.
Earlier, Finance Minister Lawrence Wong also said that Singapore will shift away from how many cases there are each day, and more to the clinical condition of these cases.
“It’s no longer about going after each and every infected case,” he said. He explained that even if a person were to be infected despite being vaccinated, the infection will likely be very mild or even asymptomatic.
Israel changes strategy
Previously, Israel was also adopted to live with Covid-19 but it is currently rethinking its strategy, reported Reuters today (13 Jul).
Israel opened up 4 weeks ago to try get its population to live a normal life with the virus. Then came the more infectious Delta variant, with many blaming returning travellers for bringing it into Israel.
After weeks of single-digit daily infection rates, the number of new cases has ballooned to more than 400 per day last week. As of last Wednesday, the country had more than 3,345 active cases – almost triple that of the previous week.
The surge in cases has forced Israel to reimpose some of the restrictions and rethink strategy. Israel has started to reinstate restrictions which include the mandatory wearing of face masks indoors and quarantine for all people arriving in Israel.
Dr Ran Balicer, chair of the government’s expert panel on Covid-19, said Israel had on average had about five severe cases of the virus and one death per day in the last week, after two weeks of zero Covid-19 deaths. The number of severe cases in hospital currently is around 45, a key figure to monitor.
“We do not have enough data from our local outbreak to be able to predict with accuracy what would happen if we let go,” Balicer said.
Sharon Alroy-Preis, head of public health at Israel’s Health Ministry said, “It’s possible that there won’t be a big rise in the severely ill but the price of making such a mistake is what’s worrying us.”