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Singapore may enter Phase 3 before end of the year if ‘all the stars are aligned’: Lawrence Wong

Singapore may enter Phase 3 before end of the year if ‘all the stars are aligned’: Lawrence Wong

Office workers wearing protective face masks walk in Singapore's central business district, during the COVID-19 outbreak in Singapore on Aug 17, 2020. (File Photo: Reuters/Edgar Su)

SINGAPORE: Singapore may be able to enter Phase 3 before the end of the year “if all the stars are aligned”, said Minister for Education Lawrence Wong on Tuesday (Nov 10). 

Responding to a question at a multi-ministry task force press conference on when Singapore may be able to enter Phase 3 , Mr Wong said the timing will be “contingent” on individuals doing their part. 

In particular, he said, Singapore needs to see higher participation in the TraceTogether programme, as well as continued cooperation and compliance with all prevailing safe distancing measures. 

"So if all the stars are aligned, we might be able to enter Phase 3 before the end of the year," said Mr Wong.

"There’s still some time before the end of the year. I do not know whether all the stars can be aligned, but we continue to monitor and we will give you updates if so.”

READ: Any person or company who needs COVID-19 PCR test can get one at approved providers from Dec 1

As Singapore gradually transitions into Phase 3, it can also expect the number of its COVID-19 cases in the community to rise, said Mr Wong.

With more activities resuming, community cases may rise “perhaps to the low teens, maybe even to the 20s, or upwards in the 30s”, said Mr Wong. 

“We have to be mentally prepared for that and be ready to ensure that even if the local cases in the community were to rise, they do not form large clusters that are out of control. The key to doing that is to step up our testing capabilities which we are doing and now we are making testing more accessible to everyone,” he added.

READ: Singapore to require all foreign inbound travellers from high-risk countries to take pre-departure COVID-19 PCR test

While one case in the community currently “may not have much of a chance” to cause a large COVID-19 cluster, there will be “a lot more” activities in the community when Singapore enters Phase 3. 

“People dining in groups of eight, weddings of larger sizes, places of worship with larger gatherings, events with a larger (number of) people coming together. With all of these activities in Phase 3, the risks of clusters forming will go up. It is inevitable, as we have seen in countries everywhere around the world.”

READ: Expert committee to assess efficacy and safety of COVID-19 vaccines; authorities widen vaccine portfolio: Gan Kim Yong

On top of strengthening testing capacities, contact tracing capabilities must also be strengthened through the expansion of SafeEntry and TraceTogether, he added. 

“If we all cooperate and do our part, we can move confidently towards Phase 3. And even in Phase 3, ensure that the reopening of our borders and the resumption of activities do not result in large classes forming again, because all of us do not want to have to go through another circuit breaker.”

Watch the full press conference: 

Source: CNA/hw

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