Watch: Hit By Surge In Coronavirus Cases, Singapore Announces Near Total Lockdown
As part of measures to contain the spread of novel coronavirus, Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong today (3 April) announced a near total lockdown of the country except for essential services beginning next Tuesday (7 April).
During an address to the nation, Prime Minister Lee raised alarm over the spurt in the daily number of coronavirus cases. While there used to be less than 10 new cases a day, we now routinely have more than 50 new cases daily, he said.
“Looking at the trend, I am worried that unless we take further steps, things will gradually get worse, or another big cluster may push things over the edge,” Lee said, describing the new measures as a “circuit breaker”.
Acknowledging significant increase in local cases, Lee said that “despite our good contact tracing, for nearly half of these cases, we do not know where or from whom the person caught the virus”.
“It will help reduce the risk of a big outbreak occurring and it should also help to gradually bring our numbers down,” he said in a national address, his third since the Covid-19 outbreak.
“This suggests that there are more people out there who are infected, but who have not been identified. And they may be passing the virus unknowingly to others.” Lee added.
Lee made a fervent plea to Singaporeans to do three things: stay home as much as possible, avoid socialising with people outside of their households, and only go out for essential things.
“If we don’t go out, if we avoid contact with others, then the virus won’t be able to spread. It is as simple as that,” he said.
Essential services such as markets and supermarkets, clinics, hospitals, utilities, transport and banking services will remain open. While food establishments will remain open, diners can no longer eat at restaurants and will have to bring their food home.
All schools in the country will be shut, Lee announced. Schools will completely move to home based learning starting Wednesday (8 April), All pre-school and student care centres will also be closed, but will provide limited services for children of parents who have to continue working and are unable to make alternative care arrangements.
Singapore government also announced that it will no longer discourage people from wearing masks given the changing situation. Lee said the government would distribute reusable masks to all households from 5 April, while conserving surgical masks for health care workers.
The Government previously advised the public only to wear masks if feeling unwell to protect others, based on scientific advice.
Singapore has witnessed a tenfold surge in cases last month, from just over 100 at the beginning of March to 1,114 as of Thursday (3 April). Of these, five have died and 266 have recovered while 23 are in intensive care.
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