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With COVID-19 defences in place, Singapore can 'put circuit breaker as a response behind us': Ong Ye Kung

With COVID-19 defences in place, Singapore can 'put circuit breaker as a response behind us': Ong Ye Kung

Students sitting at the observation area after being vaccinated at ITE College Central on Jun 7, 2021. (Photo Try Sutrisno Foo)

SINGAPORE: The defence capabilities built over the past year have enabled Singapore to no longer need a "circuit breaker" to contain the COVID-19 pandemic, allowing most businesses to stay open and for people to carry on with their daily lives, said Health Minister Ong Ye Kung on Saturday (Jun 19).

In a Facebook post, Mr Ong shared that "slightly more" than 50 per cent of the population had received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. About 36 per cent had received both doses.

More than 4.8 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered, according to the Ministry of Health (MOH). More than 2.8 million people have received the first dose, 2 million of which have received their second dose.

Mr Ong said he was "happy" with the update, though he expressed the need to "push it up further". 

READ: Singapore’s COVID-19 vaccination rates ‘not high enough’ to provide sufficient protection: Lawrence Wong

He noted that there was "increasing consensus" among experts that COVID-19 will likely be endemic. 

"Fortunately, we have built up our capabilities over the past year. We can now test, contact trace and isolate very quickly. We have also vaccinated a good part of our population.

"With these defences in place, I believe we are able to put the circuit breaker as a response behind us, and able to keep most businesses open, carry on with our daily lives," he said. 

READ: Shorter wait for Moderna COVID-19 vaccine slots, experts urge residents not to wait to get shots

However, "to go further" and keep F&B businesses and gyms open as well as resume travel, "our vaccination rate has to be higher", said Mr Ong.

"We can then be better protected, even if the virus is circulating in the community," he added.

Echoing a point made at the COVID-19 multi-ministry task force press conference on Friday, the Health Minister said Singapore is vaccinating as fast as possible but the vaccination rate is constrained by supplies due to high global demand.

"We will do our best to confirm the delivery of more vaccine to open up more slots, as early as possible," he said.

Mr Ong also encouraged people to get vaccinated when it is their turn to do so, as well as encourage their friends and family members to do the same. 

READ: Dining-in to resume from Jun 21 but in groups of two, not five

The COVID-19 task force announced on Friday several changes to the upcoming reopening measures due to a persistent number of unlinked cases, as well as a large cluster around 115 Bukit Merah View Market and Food Centre.

From Jun 21, dining in at F&B outlets will resume in groups of up to two people, instead of five as previously planned. 

“Regrettably, we are unable to proceed with our second stage of reopening in light of the latest outbreaks and big cluster that we have discovered in Bukit Merah, and now we have to adjust our plans,” said co-chair of the task force, Finance Minister Lawrence Wong, on Friday. 

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Source: CNA/lk

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