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COVID-19 vaccination for children, healthcare workers’ well-being and cooling measures to be discussed in Parliament

COVID-19 vaccination for children, healthcare workers’ well-being and cooling measures to be discussed in Parliament

The Singapore Parliament building. (File Photo: CNA/Calvin Oh)

SINGAPORE: COVID-19 vaccination for children, the well-being of healthcare workers and the impact of cooling measures on home buyers are among the issues set to be discussed in Parliament on Monday (Jan 10).

In the first Parliament sitting of the year, Members of Parliament (MPs) have raised more than 120 questions on a range of topics, including the vaccinated travel lanes (VTL), support for victims of family and sexual violence, as well as a generational ban on smoking.

According to the order paper released on Friday, MPs asked about the possible side effects of COVID-19 vaccination for children and if non-mRNA vaccines will be offered. 

Thousands of children in Singapore have already received their first jab after the vaccination exercise for those aged five to 11 began last month. Currently, children can only take the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.

Queries on whether vaccination differentiated measures will be adopted by schools and pre-schools were also raised. 

Members on both sides of the House also asked about Singapore’s ability to deal with the Omicron variant, which is more transmissible than the Delta variant.

Among the questions submitted were about the Ministry of Health’s (MOH) modelling on intensive care unit (ICU) utilisation, and if any domestic reopening plans will be “rolled back”.

MP Cheng Li Hui (PAP-Tampines GRC) asked if more vaccine doses will be needed after the booster jab, and if MOH plans to utilise antiviral pills as part of its treatment of COVID-19.

Leader of the Opposition Pritam Singh asked how many Singaporeans and permanent residents who are medically eligible remain unvaccinated against the coronavirus.

MPs also asked about the temporary freeze on new bus and flight ticket sales for the vaccinated travel lanes.

Singapore announced a halt in new ticket sales until Jan 20 due to the “rapid spread” of the Omicron variant globally.

MP Lim Biow Chuan (PAP-Mountbatten) asked if a freeze was necessary as Singapore moves towards endemic living with COVID-19, while MP Dennis Tan (WP-Hougang) asked how the Government reviews its border control measures.

Healthcare workers’ well-being was also on the agenda to be discussed by MPs.

The Health Ministry was asked if it would consider implementing a minimum and maximum number of hours worked in a week for healthcare workers. Questions were also raised about the number of abuse cases against these workers. 

MPs also wanted to know about the support available for these employees, and the “burnout rates” of such workers.

Among the other issues set to be discussed on Monday was the impact of cooling measures on home buyers.

The Government announced a package of cooling measures last month, including raising Additional Buyer’s Stamp Duty (ABSD) rates, tightening the Total Debt Servicing Ratio (TDSR) threshold and lowering the Loan-to-Value (LTV) limit for loans from the Housing and Development Board (HDB).

MPs asked about the impact on homebuyers, and if home ownership is “even more out of reach for young couples now”.

The Minister of Health was also asked if the Government would consider introducing a lifetime ban on the sale of cigarettes to young people below a certain age.

This comes after New Zealand said it plans to make it illegal to sell cigarettes to anyone aged 14 and under from 2027. This ban will remain in place for the rest of the person's life.

Three Government Bills will be introduced as well on Monday.

Six MPs have called in a motion for the Government to enhance green financing, create more green jobs and strengthen corporate accountability as Singapore moves towards a low-carbon society.

An adjournment motion – heard at the end of the sitting – will be raised by NCMP Hazel Poa (PSP), who will ask about vaccination differentiated safe management measures.

PAP MPs will also file a second parliamentary motion to address the issue of climate change and its impact on Singapore.

Among the recommendations are a dedicated academy to help prepare Singaporeans for jobs in the green sector and a tiered carbon tax for businesses. 

A total of 15 PAP MPs and one nominated MP, environmental scientist Koh Lian Pin, will speak during the motion.

Source: CNA/mi(zl)

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