SINGAPORE: Messages circulating online that Singapore will be "locked down" this weekend over the COVID-19 outbreak are untrue, National Development Minister Lawrence Wong said on Friday (Mar 20).
"There is a rumour going around on WhatsApp - some of you may have heard the rumour - that there is going to be a lockdown in Singapore this weekend. Can I just make it very clear - there is no lockdown," Mr Wong said in a press conference.
According to a WhatsApp message by Gov.sg, there are "false rumours" circulating that Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong will be addressing the nation on Friday night to announce this lockdown.
"The Prime Minister is not addressing the nation tonight, nor is Singapore locking down," the government message read.
READ: Recommendations on safe distancing measures rolled out for retail, F&B sectors to prevent COVID-19 spread
Singapore on Friday confirmed 40 new COVID-19 cases, of which 30 are imported infections. This increase takes the national total to 385 cases.
The Ministry of Health (MOH) also announced stricter safe distancing measures to contain the spread of COVID-19.
All events and gatherings with 250 or more participants attending must be suspended, effective immediately until Jun 30.
For events and gatherings with fewer than 250 participants, organisers and event venue operators are required to implement precautionary measures to ensure separation of at least a metre between participants, said MOH.
The suspension of activities for seniors by public agencies will be extended by another 14 days, until Apr 7, to safeguard their well-being, the health ministry added.
Explore our interactive: All the COVID-19 cases in Singapore and the clusters and links between them
"I don't know how the rumours started," Mr Wong said.
"It could be because we have been pursuing these measures and have been talking to many venue operators already about all the safe distancing measures that we want to put in place."
The taskforce overseeing the COVID-19 situation in Singapore has been talking to F&B operators and religious leaders as well about the safe distancing measures.
"It could be because of that, but this does not constitute a lockdown. But it certainly means that all of these things that we are doing are taken together a significant step up in our measures," the minister explained.
"It should lead to fewer people out and about, it should lead to fewer crowded places, and it should lead to a reduction in activities that involves close contact and that provide potential vectors for transmission of the virus."