S’pore Extends Covid-19 Control Order Laws For A Year In Case New Dangerous Variants Emerge

Covid-19 Control Order Laws Extended, MOH Reviewing Infectious Diseases Act

It’s been almost three years since Singapore passed the COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) Act 2020, which detailed control order laws to prevent the spread of the pandemic.

On Monday (6 Mar), the control orders were extended by another year for one final time.

In parliament, Senior Minister of State for Health Janil Puthucheary said this is so authorities can react quickly to new and dangerous variants should they emerge.

Source: MCI Singapore on YouTube

He stressed that while Singapore treats the virus as endemic, we must not be complacent about the situation.

Parliament passes extension of control order laws

On Monday (6 Mar), parliament passed amendments to the COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) Act 2020.

These amendments will extend the validity of Part 7 of the Act, granting the government the power to make regulations to prevent, protect against, delay, or otherwise control the coronavirus in Singapore.

This is under the caveat that the incidence and transmission of Covid-19 in the community constitutes a serious public health threat.

It was under this part of the act that the ‘circuit breaker’ was imposed from April to June 2020.

Gives government ability to use control measures

Just last month, Singapore moved into DORSCON (Disease Outbreak Response System Condition) Green, the lowest level since the pandemic hit.

With that, the final legal requirements for Covid-19 community measures, such as mask-wearing on public transport, were also lifted.

Extends control order laws

Nonetheless, Dr Janil cautioned that there are still uncertainties as to how Covid-19 will develop globally. He warned that the virus will continue to circulate and mutate.

“We cannot rule out the possible emergence of new variants that can cause infection waves and strain our healthcare resources,” he said.

Throughout this time, the Ministry of Health (MOH) has been monitoring and will continue to monitor the Covid-19 situation and the evolution of the virus through international networks and local surveillance.

This allows them to pick up early signals of new variants that are more transmissible or could cause more severe diseases.

In the event that these variants emerge, Singapore must continue to have the “necessary tools” to take prevention and control measures, said Dr Janil.

Hence, the country’s statutes must provide the ability to implement measures used during the pandemic.

The extension will continue to allow targeted public health measures to be implemented.

This will help prevent and control the spread of Covid-19 so the government can react swiftly to new and dangerous variants.

MOH reviewing Infectious Diseases Act

Besides that, Dr Janil shared that MOH has begun a review to enhance the Infectious Diseases Act (IDA), Singapore’s main legislation to control and prevent infectious diseases.

The ministry hopes to table amendments to it in the second half of 2023.

Part of this review includes incorporating provisions under Part 7 of the COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) Act 2020 into the IDA.

Dr Janil said this will make the IDA more robust and afford authorities the agility to cater to different situations.

He elaborated that now that we are at DORSCON Green, Part 7 should be stepping down. In future, Singapore should rely on the IDA to manage new variants of concern or new pandemics.

According to Channel NewsAsia (CNA), if IDA amendments are passed, Part 7 of the COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) Act 2020 will be revoked.

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