Effects of tightened COVID-19 measures will only be seen in 1 or 2 weeks due to 'time lag': Lawrence Wong
SINGAPORE: The effects of tightened COVID-19 measures may only be evident "one to two weeks later" as there is a "time lag" in picking up cases, said Mr Lawrence Wong, co-chair of the COVID-19 multi-ministry task force.
Mr Wong said on Tuesday (May 18) that the current COVID-19 cases detected in the community were "very likely" seeded one to two weeks ago.
"We will continue to see many cases as we pick them up, even unlinked cases as we are seeing now, precisely because of how infectious and transmissible the new strains are," he said.
Some of the recent community cases in Singapore have tested "preliminarily positive" for the B1617 variant that was first detected in India.
The Ministry of Health (MOH) reported on Monday that overall, the number of new cases in the community has increased from 32 in the week before to 149 cases in the past week. The number of unlinked community cases has also increased from seven cases in the week before to 42 cases in the past week.
On Tuesday, Singapore reported 27 new community infections, 11 of which were unlinked.
Mr Wong, who is also Finance Minister, said: "All the precautions we are used to, in fact, may not be sufficient to safeguard against the spread of the virus and we need even more stringent measures, and that's why in the recent days we have stepped up, tighten up the measures."
Since May 16, dining in at food and beverage outlets is no longer allowed. From Wednesday, schools will switch to home-based learning until the end of the term on May 28.
Singapore has also reduced the number of people who can gather from five people to two.
"It doesn't mean that our measures are not working," said Mr Wong.
"In fact, I have confidence that the latest measures that we have put in place to restrict interactions and movement will have an impact in bringing numbers down. But we will only see this materialising one to two weeks later, because of the time lag in these measures.
"So, what it means is we will continue to assess the situation very carefully. We will consult our public health experts and we will continue to see if there is a need to do any further tightening, whether the current measures are sufficient, or whether there is a need to do any further tightening along the way."
Meanwhile, people need to "do everything we can" to slow the spread of the virus, said Mr Wong.
They should go for vaccination as soon as it is offered to them, stay home as much as possible and take additional precautions when they have to go out, such as wearing masks with "high filtration capability".
Mr Wong thanked people in Singapore for cooperating with the measures so far.
"I think all of us can see the evidence around us - the streets are quieter. People are scaling back activities, and when they go out, you're going out in twos, which is in compliance with the rules," he said.
"I know this has been very difficult and disruptive for all of you, and I want to thank you for doing your part to curb the spread of the virus.
"So let's hunker down, we keep our spirits up, continue to support each other and we can get through this bump together."
Watch the full news conference and subsequent Q&A session with journalists: