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Trust made 'big difference' in Singapore's COVID-19 fight, says multi-ministry task force as it stands down

Trust made 'big difference' in Singapore's COVID-19 fight, says multi-ministry task force as it stands down

(From left) Director of Medical Services Kenneth Mak, Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong, Trade and Industry Minister Gan Kim Yong and Health Minister Ong Ye Kung at a COVID-19 multi-ministry task force on Feb 9, 2022. (Photo: MCI)

SINGAPORE: Trust among people, the Government and the private sector made a “big difference” in Singapore’s arrival at a new normal of endemic COVID-19. 

Ministers in the multi-ministry task force expressed these sentiments at a press conference on Thursday (Feb 9), where it was announced that the task force would be stood down.

After three years, Singapore will move its disease alert to its lowest level since the COVID-19 pandemic started.

“What differentiates us from many other countries is the trust that we have among our people. Trusting one another, depending on one another to look after each other,” said Trade and Industry Minister Gan Kim Yong.

He highlighted the trust between the Ministry of Health (MOH) and the healthcare system, between patients and healthcare providers, and between workers and employees.

“We all work together, between the Government and the private sector and the people. I think that trust makes a big difference in how we arrived here today.

“I also want to take this opportunity to once again thank Singaporeans for their support for whatever we decided to do. And their support has made a big difference in the outcome.”

Mr Gan was Health Minister when the task force was formed in January 2020 with then National Development Minister Lawrence Wong as co-chair. Current Health Minister Ong Ye Kung joined the task force in April 2021.

Mr Ong described his time on the task force as a “very challenging, very meaningful experience”.

"Throughout this whole period we have so many conversations between authorities, between journalists, people talking very frankly, (about) problems we face, what we need to do,” he said.

This period built a lot of camaraderie and trust “that nothing can take away” and put Singapore “in a very intangible way, at a much higher level of resilience compared to many other places”.

The COVID-19 multi-ministry task force press conference on Feb 9, 2022. (Photo: MCI)

The minister highlighted the “Protocols 1-2-3” for COVID-19 management as an example of the trust that authorities placed in people to do their part in the pandemic.

Mr Wong, now Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister, said working on the task force had provided “a front-row seat to see what Singaporeans at their best are capable of”.

“I’ve been humbled by what I’ve seen over the last three years, and by the resilience and strength of Singaporeans.

“It is this indomitable spirit that has got us through this crisis of a generation. And it’s the same spirit that will enable us to overcome all challenges in the future and secure a better tomorrow.”

Mr Wong also noted that an after-action review of the Government’s COVID-19 response would be released “soon” and debated in Parliament, without specifying a timeline.

“The report is not meant to congratulate ourselves. It’s really meant to take an objective look at what has transpired over the last three years,” he said.

In a press release, MOH said Singapore had emerged from the pandemic as “a more prepared, resilient, and united nation with one of the lowest COVID-19 death rates in the world”.

The ministry also expressed appreciation to healthcare workers and all those who contributed to the fight against the disease.

“We have been reviewing our experience in grappling with COVID-19 over the last three years. We will learn from this experience, so that Singapore can be prepared to respond to future pandemics,” it added.

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Source: CNA/dv(ac)


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