Singapore’s way of living with Covid-19 and how other countries do it

First plans

On July 26, Singapore’s multi-ministerial Covid-19 task force co-chairman Gan Kim Yong told Parliament that “nearly all” social and workplace restrictions are aimed at The response to Covid-19 in Singapore will be lifted if Singapore enters a “real state of treating Covid-19 as an endemic disease”.

The endemic disease state means there is high vaccine coverage and a low rate of severe cases, although clusters of infections do occasionally appear, explained Gan Kim Yong.

On August 10, Singapore ended restrictive measures during what authorities called a “pre-preparation phase” when group gatherings increased to 5 people, dining in restaurants was also resumed. with a maximum of 5 fully vaccinated people. In addition, the size and capacity limits of events have also been increased.

The pre-preparation phase is when the authorities make important adjustments to health regulations, as well as regulations on social activities and travel, to prepare Singapore for the transition to becoming a new country. response to Covid-19 (Covid-resilient nation), said Health Minister Ong Ye Kung.

This phase will last about a month until early September, Mr. Ong said, and predicts that by that time, 80% of the population will be fully vaccinated.

“At that point, we can continue to keep the number of serious cases under control and our health system won’t have to be so strained. We’ll be able to move on to the next phase, okay? called Transition Stage A”.

“This is the time when we will open up our economy, social activities and travel more widely. Then our lives will return to normal and livelihoods will be better protected. However, when we do, we will certainly see an increase in the number of cases.”

Singapore’s turning point

In early September, however, when the number of daily cases skyrocketed, Transition A did not occur. On September 3, co-chair of the multi-unit Covid-19 task force Lawrence Wong said there will be no halt to the current restrictive measures as authorities are assessing the situation.

Singapore recorded 216 community cases on September 3 when clusters of cases appeared at bus transfer points and Bugis Interchange.

“We do not intend to make any reopening moves at this stage because there is a time lag from the onset of cases to the onset of the disease. Therefore, we would like to spend more. time to assess the situation,” Wong said.

However, Mr. Wong said, there will be no need to tighten restrictions when Singapore already has high vaccine coverage and is now starting to live with Covid-19.

“In fact, we will only reverse to adopting tightening measures as a last resort to prevent the health system from being overwhelmed.”

A few days later, on September 6, Singapore’s Ministry of Health urged people to limit concentration and ban social interaction activities at work.

Mr Wong also said on September 6 that authorities did not rule out returning to heightened alert or “circuit breaker” if there was a sharp increase in the number of severe cases requiring intensive care. poles or oxygen.

“As I said last week, there are measures to be considered as a last resort and we will do our best to avoid their use but will not completely eliminate them,” Wong said.

Singapore on September 8 recorded 347 new cases in the community. As of September 8, there have been 664 Covid-19 cases hospitalized. 23 are in serious condition and require oxygen while 6 are in critical condition and require treatment in the intensive care unit.

While Singapore is moving towards living with Covid-19 cautiously, some countries have completely ended their blockades and stopped many restrictive measures against Covid-19.

Israel

Israel, one of the countries with one of the highest vaccination rates in the world, began halting restrictions in March in what the country’s authorities called the first phase of a return to normal life. often.

With the lifting of restrictions, people can enter shopping centers and tourist attractions such as zoos, although in some cases, such as gyms, hotels and synagogues – places of religious activities. Jewish churches still need a vaccination witness – or “green pass” to enter.

On June 1, when the number of Covid-19 cases dropped to 20 cases/day, Israel abandoned the green card system and lifted restrictions on the size of large gatherings.

“The Israeli economy and citizens will be more comfortable,” Health Minister Yuli Edelstein said a few days before June 1, although he also warned that restrictive measures could be re-imposed if the situation changes. change.

On June 15, Israel ended the requirement to wear masks in closed spaces in public places, based on a strong vaccination campaign with more than half of its 9.3 million population partially vaccinated. or complete.

However, 10 days later, authorities re-imposed the rule of wearing masks indoors as Israel recorded a record of more than 100 new cases daily for consecutive days after not recording any cases at the beginning. previous month.

“We are seeing cases doubling every few days. Another concern is that the number of infections is spreading,” said the head of Israel’s Covid-19 response force, Mr. Nachman Ash. good.

On July 23, Israel did not announce plans to reintroduce the green card system amid the number of cases continuing to increase due to the Delta variant, while the authorities stepped up a third vaccination program for the elderly. .

These measures are part of Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s Covid-19 “soft containment” policy, which encourages the people of Israel learn to live with the virus by using the least restrictive measures possible and avoiding a 4th nationwide lockdown that could hurt the economy.

However, on August 19, Israel’s head of the anti-Covid-19 task force, Professor Salman Zarka, warned that the number of cases was still increasing day by day. If the situation does not improve, “we will blockade like the first wave and the second wave”. However, Prime Minister Bennett said the new blockade will destroy the future of Israel.

“Blockade is a last resort and is only implemented when all other options are exhausted.”

South Korea

South Korea, which has been praised as a success story in dealing with Covid-19, has planned to allow gatherings of six people and extend operating hours for restaurants and fitness centers. Indoor sports from 1/7. The easing of social distancing regulations nationwide from July includes the lifting of the requirement to wear masks outdoors for those who have received a dose of the vaccine.

The moves come as South Korea has vaccinated 29% of its population by the end of June, aiming to vaccinate 70% of its population by September. Daily new cases have stayed below 600 for more than 1 year. week.

“The new social distancing system is an attempt to find a balance between isolation and restoring daily life amid the prolonged Covid-19 pandemic,” said Health Minister Kwon Deok-cheol. on television.

On July 4, authorities reversed the decision to relax the regulation of wearing masks in the capital Seoul after the number of cases skyrocketed, mainly among people in their 20s and 30s, amid the pandemic. Delta can spread rapidly.

After that, the average daily number of cases increased to 531.3 people, 46% higher than a week earlier. On July 7, President Moon Jae In called for swift action to control the epidemic as the country recorded the highest number of daily cases in six months with 1,212 cases.

The government had to postpone a plan to gradually ease restrictions as Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum warned that restrictive measures in Seoul and the surrounding area could rise to level 4 – the highest level if the situation does not improve. .

Finally, authorities raised the alert to the highest level in Seoul and some surrounding areas for two weeks from July 12 after the number of new cases increased to a record for the second day in a row despite There has not yet been a significant increase in hospitalizations and deaths.

With the level 4 restriction order, people are advised to stay at home as much as possible, schools are closed, public places are only allowed to gather no more than 2 people after 6 pm, while rallies and events other than what is prohibited.

On July 25, South Korea raised the alert level to level 4 in most areas of the country. Since then, the country has had to maintain strict restrictive measures while the Prime Minister of South Korea said on September 3 that a level 4 restriction order would continue to be implemented in Seoul and the surrounding area for about approx. 1 month.

Health authorities said on September 8 that they plan to live more normally with Covid-19, and said that 80% of adults in the country will be fully vaccinated. at the end of October.

Brother

On July 19, Britain entered the final stage of easing Covid-19 restrictions when lifting almost all restrictions on social interaction. In the UK, there are no restrictions on how many people are allowed to gather, nightclubs have also reopened while the wearing of masks is recommended in some places, but not mandatory.

However, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said it was important to stay cautious and warned that the pandemic was not over yet.

Some scientists predict the number of cases in the UK could rise to 200,000 a day by the end of summer. However, with more than 68 per cent of adults in the UK fully vaccinated, this forecast puts the number of hospitalizations, severe illness and deaths this time at a lower level than previous peaks. BBC said.

Although the number of daily cases in the UK decreased at the end of July, it has recently increased again with 37,489 cases on September 7, mainly caused by the Delta variant. The number of daily deaths in the UK remains low with an average of 135 but the number of hospitalized patients is growing.

The most recent government figures show that 7,976 people are hospitalized in the UK. A week earlier, the number was 7,315. More than 1,000 people hospitalized have to use ventilators.

Shortly after the restrictions were lifted, scientists advising the government warned that mask-wearing and other measures could be reintroduced in the UK if hospital admissions rise. higher than forecast.

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