Over a year into the pandemic, the question of when we can resume our ‘normal lives’ lingers on.
Penning an opinion piece for The Straits Times (ST), 3 ministers who are co-chairs of the Covid-19 Multi-ministry Task Force provided some answers.
In the article published on Thursday (24 Jun), they outlined the possible steps Singapore will take in our move towards a ‘new normal’.
Among them are possible home recovery for Covid-19 patients and shifting the focus from case numbers to the severity of infections.
In the opinion piece, Ministers Lawrence Wong, Gan Kim Yong, and Ong Ye Kung draw up Singapore’s road map towards a ‘new normal’.
One of them is the likelihood of home recovery for Covid-19 patients with mild symptoms.
Thanks to mass vaccination, symptoms among patients are much milder, and the risk of transmission is lower too.
Moreover, with self-test kits available at pharmacies, individuals can detect an infection independently and isolate themselves.
The task force thus foresees the need for contact tracing and mass quarantine diminishing in the near future.
Instead of monitoring the number of Covid-19 infections closely, the focus will be on their severity. This is similar to how we currently approach the flu.
Much to our relief, the resumption of large gatherings seems to be in sight in the ‘new normal’.
Over time, the task force sees the possibility of easing safe management rules and resuming mass gatherings like the National Day Parade and New Year Countdown.
They also reassure businesses of no further disruptions to their operations.
Beyond our shores, we may be able to dust off our passports and travel overseas again. But this depends on the other countries’ virus management, and whether they’ve also implemented ‘new normal’ measures.
Mutual recognition of vaccine certificates will be key, along with pre-departure and on-arrival testing which will allow travellers who test negative for the virus to skip quarantine.
To usher in the ‘new normal’, however, we must first achieve a few milestones.
Most pressing is the vaccination milestone, as we work towards having 2/3 of the population fully vaccinated around National Day.
We’ll also need easier and faster testing for Covid-19 to ensure large events can proceed safely.
Meanwhile, our healthcare professionals are becoming more experienced in treating Covid-19 symptoms.
But crucially, Singaporeans need to see Covid-19 as an endemic and routinely practise good personal hygiene.
As long as we exercise social responsibility, we can effectively reduce the virus’ transmission in our midst.
The ministers then send out a reassuring message that Singapore is preparing to transit to such a ‘new normal’.
In the meantime, upholding the necessary precautions and safeguards remains essential.
Ending their ST opinion piece on an uplifting note, the ministers write:
“Science and human ingenuity will eventually prevail over Covid-19. Cohesion and social consciousness will get us there faster. We must all do our part.”
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