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Review of Government's COVID-19 response led by former civil service head Peter Ho, focuses on 'first phase' of pandemic

Review of Government's COVID-19 response led by former civil service head Peter Ho, focuses on 'first phase' of pandemic

People wearing protective face masks in the Central Business District in Singapore on Mar 25, 2022. (Photo: CNA/Gaya Chandramohan)

SINGAPORE: Former head of civil service, Mr Peter Ho, is overseeing the Government's after-action review (AAR) on COVID-19, which has already commenced, said co-chair of the COVID-19 task force Lawrence Wong on Monday (May 9). 

Mr Wong, who is also Finance Minister, said in Parliament that Singapore's response to the pandemic could be characterised into two broad phases. 

The AAR is focused on the "first phase" of Singapore's experience with COVID-19, ranging from the start of the outbreak to August 2021, where the focus was on containing the spread of the virus. 

"Thereafter, when we had vaccinated a high proportion of people in Singapore, we shifted our approach to learn to live with the virus. For now, the pandemic is still not over, but the situation has improved," said Mr Wong.

He reiterated what Senior Minister Teo Chee Hean said in Parliament last year, that the Government would begin the AAR "when the situation has stabilised and we are out of the woods". 

Mr Wong shared that Mr Ho had been given "all information with regard to the Government's response" for him to do a "thorough exercise in reviewing" the response.

"(This) is our intent. To learn thoroughly and rigorously from what we have experienced so far, in order that we can do better for the next pandemic, which will surely come," said Mr Wong. 

"This was also the approach we took and when we reviewed the lessons from SARS ... We put in place a DORSCON framework. We set up NCID (National Centre for Infectious Diseases). And likewise, we will learn many lessons, many useful lessons from COVID-19, particularly the first phase of the experience so far." 

FOCUS ON STRATEGIC ISSUES 

Mr Wong said that the lessons derived from the AAR would be "wide-ranging", and would include "how we can be more resilient as a nation, how we can improve our supply chains, how we can improve our national resiliency in a broad range of areas". 

In response, Non-Constituency Member of Parliament Leong Mun Wai (PSP) asked whether the AAR would include a "more detailed assessment of how the S$100-billion COVID (budget)" has been spent.

While the AAR will look at "the whole range of issues", the focus would be on issues of strategic and national importance, said Mr Wong. 

"The question that Mr Leong asked really is more pertaining to accountability with regard to money spent, which is an important issue. But I think (it's) a slightly different one and MOF (the Ministry of Finance) will be happy to take that up. And we do that with regard to all areas of spending, and where relevant, we will put out information on how the monies are spent," he added.

"But let the AAR focus on the more strategic and important issues that will enable us to be better prepared for the next pandemic."

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Source: CNA/gy(ac)

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