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Streamlining of COVID-19 measures to be postponed as local case numbers remain high: MOH

Streamlining of COVID-19 measures to be postponed as local case numbers remain high: MOH
Patrons at People's Park Centre in Singapore. (Photo: Jeremy Long)

SINGAPORE: The streamlining of COVID-19 safe management measures will be postponed again as daily local case numbers have remained high.

"The number of cases currently hospitalised also remains high, and our healthcare workers are still under significant pressure," said the Ministry of Health (MOH) on Friday (Mar 4).

The multi-ministry taskforce had announced on Feb 16 that Singapore will simplify its COVID-19 rules and do away with the requirement for safe distancing in mask-on settings. This was to take effect on Feb 25, with a further easing of capacity limits on Mar 4.

In a subsequent update on Feb 24, MOH said it would delay the streamlining due to an ongoing surge in cases. The ministry said it would consolidate and streamline the measures in one go, to be implemented at a later date. 

"This was given the extensive work involved in going through the detailed rules across different settings as well as the surge in cases," said MOH. 

However, given the current situation, the Health Ministry said these plans will be delayed. 

"As such, although the measures are largely streamlining in nature and not expected to significantly increase transmission risk or affect our epidemic situation, we will hold back the streamlining of measures for a while more, in solidarity with our healthcare workers," said MOH. 

It added that the weekly infection growth rate has dropped below one in the past two days, suggesting that Singapore's current epidemic wave may have peaked. 

The weekly infection growth rate refers to the ratio of community cases for the past week over the week before. A number above 1 indicates that the number of new weekly COVID-19 cases is rising.

"We will continue to monitor the situation closely with the hope that the situation will soon enable the streamlining of measures to take effect and pave the way for further easing of measures thereafter," said MOH.

The streamlined rules earlier outlined by the Health Ministry will focus on the five "most important and effective measures" – group sizes, mask-wearing, workplace requirements, safe distancing and capacity limits. 

COVID-19 task force co-chair Gan Kim Yong previously said safe management measures were simplified so that they are easier for businesses and people to understand and comply with.

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Source: CNA/lk(zl)

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