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Singapore to Reopen Borders and Businesses
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Singapore to Reopen Borders and Businesses

Singapore is likely to start small and selectively in the reopening of its border, said the republic’s Health Minister Gan Kim Yong.

Gan said a mix of isolation and test requirements will continue to be imposed to protect the republic from new imported cases leading to a community spread.

The minister said this in his Ministerial Statement at Parliament, on the second update on the whole-of-government response to COVID-19 here today.

Gan noted that a variety of factors or indicators will be looked at in considering the re-opening of borders, which is part of the tighter circuit breaker measures.

“We need to make an assessment of the situation globally and individual countries, on the extent and approach on reopening our borders."

One of Singapore's land borders. Image: The Star
One of Singapore's land borders. Image: The Star

“We would review the rate of transmissions in other countries, as well as what they have done to contain the spread,” Gan explained to Bernama.

Singapore reported its first imported case on Jan 23 and with Sunday’s tally of 18,205, Singapore identified 579 or only 3.18 per cent as imported cases.

Gan stressed that numbers are important but they are not the only thing to be considered before lifting the circuit breaker measures.

“We need to be assured that community transmission locally is stemmed, or very low. Community cases should ideally fall to zero or single digits daily, with very low numbers of unlinked cases, and not just for one day, but sustained over a period of time.

“While we have been able to keep local community cases low despite high number of cases among migrant workers, it is equally important to reduce the migrant worker cases over time, though it will take a while longer,” Gan said.

Otherwise, Singapore will continue to be at risk of a spillover from the dormitories into the wider population, he added.

 People wearing face masks walk along the promenade at Marina Bay in Singapore on May 4. Image: Roslan Rahman/AFP via Getty Images
People wearing face masks walk along the promenade at Marina Bay in Singapore on May 4. Image: Roslan Rahman/AFP via Getty Images

As businesses in Singapore begin to reopen, the government will need to step up its testing capability and capacity as well. As quoted by Bloomberg, “We need to be assured that community transmission locally is stemmed, or very low,” Gan said in his own remarks in parliament.

A nationwide testing strategy is being developed, even as the country scales up its testing capacity, according to Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong, who also co-chairs a ministerial task force to tackle the virus, told parliament on Monday.

“Remember the fight is far from over."

Authorities said over the weekend that some workplaces and services will resume operations from May 12, while certain groups of students will be allowed to return to school the following week. Sectors such as manufacturing, which require workers to be onsite, should meanwhile start making preparations for the gradual re-opening of the economy in the coming weeks, Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing told reporters.

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