Today (22 Jul) marks the return of Phase 2 (Heightened Alert) and many are understandably disappointed at dine-in restrictions applying again.
Health Minister Ong Ye Kung shared the rationale for the revert even though just days earlier, the multi-ministry taskforce (MTF) said F&B establishments would remain open.
He explained that although authorities could contain the KTV lounge cluster, the Jurong Fishery Port cluster had gotten too widespread.
As such, the MTF opted to suspend dine-ins instead of risking it all.
In the Facebook post on Wednesday (21 Jul), Mr Ong noted the disappointment that many, including himself, faced upon the revert to P2HA.
But he said that the revert isn’t due to the KTV cluster or the irresponsible behaviour of those who visited these lounges.
Instead, it was the Jurong Fishery Port cluster that forced the MTF’s hand.
New cases in the KTV cluster had actually gone down, Mr Ong said. As of 21 Jul, there were just 8 new cases detected.
On the other hand, there were 130 new cases from the Jurong Fishery Port detected yesterday.
Mr Ong said that because fishmongers and stall assistants got infected at the Port and went to work at various markets here, more local cases were seeded.
The issue is that many senior citizens visit markets, and many remain unvaccinated.
He calls this “most worrying”, and there’s a risk of an uncontrollable rise in cases.
The lack of vaccinated seniors may result in severe illness or even deaths, and so tightening social activities had to be done.
While some have asked Mr Ong why the MTF had to suspend restaurants given no cases detected there, he said it doesn’t work like that.
As the virus spreads exponentially with each individual meeting others out for a meal, this can create a network of connections that can “turbo charge” the ongoing cluster further.
Therefore, the MTF made the decision to stop dine-ins.
However, Mr Ong also said that there is some good news, as 50% of the population has received 2 vaccine doses.
This percentage will go up by 1% a day, which means in 2 weeks the rate will be at 64% or perhaps more.
He said that this will put Singapore in a stronger position in 2 weeks when the MTF reviews the P2HA rules.
And in light of that, Mr Ong said the MTF chose not to risk it all given how large the Jurong Fishery Port cluster has gotten.
While frustrating, he hopes that the public understands why the latest measures are necessary.
Although much focus was put on the KTV cluster, a larger cluster soon followed, which spread to various markets around Singapore.
The 2 clusters are linked as well, but the KTV cluster had been brought down. On the other hand, the Jurong Fishery Port cluster continues to spread.
Cases are likely to go down in the next 2 weeks with no dine-ins allowed. It’s a frustrating situation to be in for sure, but higher vaccination rates may be our way out of these seemingly endless lockdowns.
So do hang in there, everyone. If things get hard, do speak to someone you can trust or make a call to a helpline.
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Featured image adapted from CNA via YouTube.
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