Lawrence Wong Says Tightened Restrictions Designed To Protect Healthcare System

Due to the current wave of Covid-19, the government had to tighten restrictions again, cutting social gatherings back to 2 people.

As we dealt with life on the 1st day of the “stabilisation phase”, Finance Minister Lawrence Wong said in an interview that the decision wasn’t made lightly.

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He added that the government did this to protect our healthcare workers as they were under tremendous stress.

Restrictions tightened to slow down the exponential rise

During his interview with Bloomberg TV on Monday (27 Sep), Minister Wong explained that authorities were imposed to stabilise the situation by slowing down the current exponential rise in Covid-19 cases.

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This will also give us time to build up our healthcare capacity, said the minister, who also co-chairs the Multi-Ministry Task Force (MTF) handling the pandemic.

Preparing for 5,000 cases a day

Just how much capacity should we prepare for, Singaporeans may wonder. From the interview, Minister Wong indicated that we should prepare for 5,000 cases a day.

He’d previously cautioned that 0.2% of Covid-19 cases are still at risk of a stay in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU).

To ensure they get timely care, hospitals need to admit about 10% of cases for closer monitoring – comprising older people and those with multiple health conditions.

That means if we have 5,000 cases a day, 500 (10% of 5,000) will have to be warded daily.

Considering each person stays at least 1 week in the hospital, Minister Wong added,

That is a lot of hospital beds.

Thus, as Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said on 22 Sep, Singapore is trying to scale up operations. That includes ramping up medical facilities, equipment and manpower.

Healthcare workers facing tremendous stress

Besides our facilities, Singapore’s healthcare workers are also “facing tremendous pressures and stresses” during this latest wave, Minister Wong said.

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Thus, the Government “felt that we had to do it” – referring to the tightened restrictions –  so our healthcare system could remain “intact and under control”.

If the healthcare system gets overwhelmed, there would also be “unnecessary deaths” that could’ve been avoided, he added.

Decision was made collectively

Bloomberg journalist Haslinda Amin also implied that Singapore’s leadership might have conflicting views over how to manage our reopening.

To that, Minister Wong replied that the decision to tighten restrictions was made collectively.

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They looked at the data and evidence together with medical experts and decided that there’s a huge risk of our healthcare system becoming overwhelmed.

The decision wasn’t made lightly, he added.

Singapore’s still committed to reopening

In a Facebook post on Monday (27 Sep) night, Minister Wong repeated what he said in the interview: Singapore’s still committed to reopening.

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However, we have to do this without overwhelming our healthcare system, he added.

As for businesses and workers affected by the restrictions, the government won’t hesitate to use “the full measure” of Singapore’s fiscal resources to help them.

Normalising our lives shouldn’t come at a heavy cost

Though we can’t wait to get our lives back to normal as soon as possible, we know it shouldn’t come at a heavy cost.

Overburdening our healthcare system and our heroic workers is something we definitely should avoid, even if it means going back under painful restrictions.

Hopefully, this latest round will bring the number of daily Covid-19 cases to a manageable level to give us some breathing room.

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Featured image adapted from Bloomberg TV and Facebook.