Photo: Ong Ye Kung's Facebook page

SINGAPORE —  The Ministry of Health (MOH) announced on Thursday (9 February) that Singapore will lower the Disease Outbreak Response System Condition (DORSCON) from yellow to green from 13  February.

MOH said in a press release that the lowering of the DORSCON level comes as the global and local pandemic situation is stable, and the disease is mild, especially among vaccinated individuals.

“But unless it is a very dangerous and virulent variant, we should be able to manage these subsequent waves with an appropriate level of measures that does not deviate significantly from the new norm, and continue to live our lives normally.”

The DORSCON level was first raised to yellow in end-2019 and then to orange on 7 February 2020.

With effect from 13 Feb, masks are no longer required on public transport.

However, mask-wearing is still required for visitors, staff and patients in healthcare and residential care settings (e.g. hospitals, clinics and nursing homes) where there is interaction with patients.

Lifting border restriction

Singapore will also lift all COVID-19 border restrictions from 13 February. Non-fully vaccinated visitors entering Singapore will no longer have to show proof of either a negative pre-departure test or proof of vaccination before arrival here.

Currently, visitors may enter Singapore without testing or quarantine.

MOH said it might reactivate the border restriction if there are international developments of concern, such as new severe variants or signs that the healthcare capacity here is strained.

The vaccinated travel framework that was implemented since April 2022 will remain in place.

MTF stepped down, MOH will assume the management of the COVID-19 situation

MOH also confirmed that the multi-ministry taskforce (MTF) will also step down, and MOH will take over the management of the COVID-19 situation.

Singapore government will reactivate an appropriate multi-agency crisis management structure if the situation worsens significantly.

Health Minister and co-chair of MTF Ong Ye Kung, wrote in his recent Facebook post: “We are at ease now, but always stand ready. Senang diri, but not keluar baris. ”

He said It has been a long battle, and Singaporeans have emerged as a more resilient people.

“I thank all Singaporeans for playing a part in keeping each other safe.”

Vaccines remain fully subsidised for eligible patients

At a press conference today, MTF said free vaccinations would continue to be offered to all Singapore Citizens, permanent residents, long-term pass holders and certain short-term pass holders.

said the government will recommend that certain groups take booster jabs annually.

MOH recommended that everyone aged five and above should achieve at least minimum protection. This refers to taking three doses of mRNA or Novavax vaccine, or four doses of Sinovac vaccine.

“Covid-19 vaccination is not yet becoming a national recommendation because the situation is still evolving. But in the process, we are keeping it free,” he said.

However, treatment for COVID-19 will no longer be fully subsidised as it is treated as an endemic disease. Patients will also have to pay for any Covid-19 testing.

According to MOH data, as of 7 February,  83 per cent of the population eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine have received minimum protection, while 48 per cent have an up-to-date vaccination.

Members of the public can uninstall TraceTogether App, says MOH

MOH also announced that the use of contact tracing systems TraceTogether and SafeEntry are being stepped down. Members of the public can uninstall their TT App, and companies may do the same for the SafeEntry (Business) App.

Minister Ong added that in case of a dangerous variant of concern emerges, both apps still remain available in app stores for download and ready to be reactivated.

Names, business unique entity numbers (UEN), and mobile numbers will be retained in the systems to make it easier for individuals and companies to re-register for the systems if needed.

The public can also return their TraceTogether tokens between Feb 13 and March 12 to the counters at all 108 community clubs and centres.

“We strongly encourage the public to return their tokens so that they can be refurbished and recycled for distribution to those who need it, should digital contact tracing operations have to be reactivated,” MOH said.

“We no longer require infected persons to submit TT data, SE data is no longer being collected, and MOH has deleted all identifiable TT and SE data from its servers and databases.”

DORSCON as guide to manage outbreak

DORSCON is a framework used to guide the way the country deals with and manages outbreaks. Code Orange is one level below Red which is the highest most urgent code used in cases of pandemics that are out of control.

MOH explained that DORSCON looks at the current situation overseas and considers how transmissible the disease is as well as how likely it is to arrive in Singapore.

It also considers the impact the disease may have on the local population.

The system was created after the 2003 SARS outbreak. In 2009, the country’s DORSON code was at Orange during the H1N1 influenza outbreak.

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