PM Lee Reassures That Situation In Singapore Is Under Control, Won’t Go To DORSCON Red
After much concern, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has officially laid Singaporeans’ worries to rest.
Singapore won’t be going to DORSCON Red, he announced in his 8pm address to citizens on Channel NewsAsia (CNA) on Thursday (12 Mar).
It is understood that PM Lee is reacting to the World Health Organization (WHO)’s declaration last night, that Covid-19 is now a global pandemic.
He said while Singapore will remain in “high risk state for some time to come”, the situation in the country remains under control.
We are not locking down our city like the Chinese, South Koreans or Italians have done. What we are doing now is to plan ahead for some of these more stringent measures, try them out, and prepare Singaporeans for when we actually need to implement them.
PM Lee added that he was sharing plans to show that the government is thinking ahead, and that he’s confident Singapore can deal with the outbreak well.
When we made direct appeals to Singaporeans, for example, only wear face masks when unwell; or not to worry about our supermarkets running out of food or household items, people accepted our reassurances, and behaviour changed.
He said he is grateful that most Singaporeans are responding calmly and responsibly the the outbreak now.
No DORSCON Red, but Singapore to remain in high risk state
On 7 Feb, Singapore has raised the DORSCON alert to Orange, and has stayed as such ever since. This doesn’t mean that we should let our guard down.
PM Lee said Singapore will remain in high risk state for some time to come.
But if we keep up our guard, and take practical precautions to protect ourselves and our families, we will be able to keep our economy going, and carry on with our daily lives.
In such a crisis, he said everyone has a part to play.
I hope you will work with me and colleagues to keep our families safe, keep Singapore secure, and move forward together.
2nd package of support on the way
During such uncertain times, one major concern we all have over the Covid-19 situation is the impact it has on the economy.
It’s undeniable that our economy has taken a big hit. Even though Singapore introduced the $4 billion Support and Stablisation Package in last month’s budget to help businesses, workers and households, more might needs to be done.
PM Lee shared,
But with things still unfolding, we knew we might have to do more. The situation is especially serious for some sectors – hotels, aviation, hospitality, and freelancers in the gig economy.
Hence, a 2nd package of measures is on the way. PM Lee said this is to help companies with costs and cash-flow, help workers keep jobs, and retrain during their downtime.
Advises religious services to be shortened
PM Lee advises for long term social responsibility, as “Covid-19 will be with us for a long time”.
There are baseline things everyone needs to get used to, such as:
- practising good personal hygiene
- adopting new social norms
- discouraging large gatherings
- maintaining some physical distance from one another.
Using affected religious groups like Korea’s Shincheonji cluster and 2 Singapore church groups as examples, PM Lee also hopes Singaporeans would understand that religious services would need to be shortened.
Extra social distancing measures as “brakes” to counter spikes
Singapore needs to plan for a possible spike in Covid-19 cases. While the government is already freeing up ICU, hospital beds, and facilities, PM Lee said we’ll also need additional social distancing measures.
PM Lee said these will be temporary like suspending school, staggering work hours, or compulsory telecommuting.
They will be extra “brakes”, to be implemented when we see a spike in cases. The extra brakes will slow down transmission of the virus, prevent our healthcare system from being overwhelmed, and help bring the numbers back down.
It is only after the situation improves, Singapore can ease off and go back to baseline precautions.
For the full 12-minute speech, you can read the transcript here.
Featured image adapted from CNA via YouTube.