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Singapore starting to see 'encouraging signs' in COVID-19 journey, but not yet 'out of the woods': PM Lee

Singapore starting to see 'encouraging signs' in COVID-19 journey, but not yet 'out of the woods': PM Lee

A COVID-19 SafeEntry sign is pictured as people walk out during lunch break at the Raffles Place financial business district in Singapore on Sep 14, 2021. (Photo: AFP/Roslan Rahman)

SINGAPORE: Singapore is starting to see "encouraging signs" in its COVID-19 journey, but it is not out of the woods yet, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Monday (Dec 13).

"The surge in cases over the last three months is subsiding. We have protected our healthcare system and kept fatalities low," said Mr Lee, adding that Singapore is now preparing for the impact of the Omicron variant.

"Booster shots of the vaccine will be a key part of our strategy," Mr Lee said.

"We are not yet out of the woods, but we are confident that we can cope with Omicron, because with vaccinations and boosters, we are in a much stronger position today to deal with COVID-19."

Mr Lee was speaking at Jurong Spring Community Club, where he launched a S$130 million Community Development Councils (CDCs) voucher scheme.

A total of 1.3 million Singaporean households will each receive S$100 in digital vouchers that can be used at participating hawkers and heartland shops.

Thanking everyone for staying "united and resilient" in the face of COVID-19, Mr Lee said he hopes that the CDC vouchers will be a "small gesture of encouragement in these difficult times".

"These are to express the Government's appreciation for everyone's solidarity during this period. And the vouchers should also help defray some of your daily expenses – food and essential household items and services."

"At the same time, this will also support our local heartland shops ... and hawkers, who have been hard hit during this pandemic."

This is the first time that vouchers will be given digitally, as physical vouchers were previously used.

For those who need help with the voucher scheme, assistance will be available at Community Centres/Clubs (CCs). Priority will be given to seniors without household members to help them claim their vouchers. Residents without smartphones or who need to set up their Singpass or reset their Singpass password can also head to the CCs.

Where needed, there will be the option of printing hardcopy vouchers at the CCs. 

Assistance will also be available at selected Residents’ Committee as well as Residents’ Network Centres located in areas with more elderly people, to guide residents on how to claim the vouchers. 

In addition, digital ambassadors at the SG Digital community hubs found in selected CCs and public libraries will help residents who are digitally less savvy. Ambassadors from the Silver Generation Office will also assist with any queries during their house visits to seniors.

"We will learn from this experience so that the next time we have such a scheme, it will be even simpler and (more) convenient to use. In this way, Singaporeans and especially seniors can be assured that every eligible household can benefit from the CDC vouchers," said Mr Lee.

"The fight against COVID-19 has been a long and winding one. The virus has surprised us multiple times and we've had to adapt our response each time," he added.

It's been challenging for everyone, especially our residents and heartland businesses to keep up with the new policies and changing restrictions. Thank you for bearing with us, and for your continued trust and support as we make our way through these difficult times."

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Source: CNA/mt(gs)


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