5 Must-Know Things PM Lee Said During His Speech Today (31 May)

Get ready with your televisions. Or your YouTube. You know, when was the last time you actually used a big screen to watch TV?

It’s that time of the year again. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong is giving a COVID-19 update. Will there be a Circuit Breaker 2.0 or can we have restaurant dates again?

Well, read on to find out.


1. Phase Two to be Eased

Hold off on your toilet paper and instant noodles orders.

Prime Minister Lee echoed what Minister for Finance Lawrence Wong mentioned on Friday, that the number of locally transmitted cases here has been kept largely under control after more than one infection cycle of about 14 days.

Adding on to the announcement, Health Minister Ong Ye Kung observed a marked decrease in seven-day total infections in the last week than the week before, and a steady fall in the number of people not quarantined before testing positive.

Based on these observations, Lee shared that Singapore should be expected to exit the Phase Two (Heightened Alert) restrictions on the originally scheduled date of 13 June.

”Barring another superspreader event”, of course. Do your part, people.

2. More Vigorous, Varied Testing

According to the announcement, “Routine and regular” tests will be given to people within work and community settings to quickly detect asymptomatic cases before further infections occur.

There are also changes to the testing regimen: if you are referred to a Public Health Preparedness Clinic, you will be given an Antigen Rapid Test that can yield results within 30 minutes. If you are detected to be positive, you can then be isolated immediately to prevent further spreads into the community. Yay! Touchwood!

If you are afraid of COVID-19 every time you sneeze or simply want to do your part to the community, you can also soon purchase DIY testing kits over the counter at pharmacies to put your mind at ease.

New “fast and easy” tests are also coming through, which can give an indicative result in as little as one minute. These include breathalyser tests developed by the National University of Singapore and Nanyang Technological University, though such a test can be equipment-intensive.

Nonetheless, the variety of tests available means that Singapore can choose the most appropriate tests for different purposes, such as fast one-minute tests at immigration checkpoints and airports.

3. More Intensive Contact Tracing Protocols

While Lee remarked that contact tracing has “rapidly evolved” with the help of TraceTogether data and more mature processes that enable us to identify close contacts within hours, this is not sufficient given the infectious mutations spreading.

As a result, the government will isolate not only close contacts of a confirmed COVID-19 case, but also their household contacts, once they have been identified, to prevent potential infections.


4. Vaccination

The majority of Singapore residents aged 45 and above — age groups more susceptible to COVID-19 – have already been vaccinated; so far, more than four million vaccine doses have already been given.

However, the pace remains insufficient in the government’s objective to “protect as many Singaporeans as possible.”

Therefore, the government will now be prioritising giving as many first doses as possible to unvaccinated people, rather than completing the full vaccination regimen to a limited number.

The government will also start priority vaccinations for students, “taking full advantage of the June holidays” to fully vaccinate those in school, especially those who are due for large gatherings as they take their O-level and A-level students.

In a show of urgency, bookings for students will start tomorrow (1 June).

Those aged below 40 will also soon have access to vaccinations by the middle of June, with Singaporeans enjoying a two-week window of priority registration.

If you are over 60, meanwhile, you can now walk into a vaccination centre directly and be vaccinated without a need for bookings, and the Silver Generation Office will arrange for home vaccinations for those who cannot reach a vaccination centre.


Minister for Health Ong Ye Kung added that, with evidence showing that the vaccine can be safely used on a number of groups previously restricted from taking the vaccine, these precautions can be safely removed.

These groups include pregnant and breastfeeding women, cancer patients on active treatment, and adults who are not allergic to ingredients in the mRNA vaccines used in Singapore.

Otherwise, those who cannot receive the two vaccines will also soon be able to receive other WHO-approved vaccines — including, potentially, the 200,000 doses of Sinovac sitting in some warehouse since January — through private providers under the Special Access Route.

Lee promises that, if all goes according to plan, two-thirds of Singaporean residents should be vaccinated by early July — an optimistic number for eventual herd immunity.

To know more about COVID-19 vaccines in Singapore, watch this video to the end:


5. COVID-19 May Not Disappear

Yeah. That’s not so hopeful: according to Lee, COVID-19 “will remain with humankind, and become endemic.”

We can, nonetheless, still carry on with our daily lives, much like how we have been despite the persistence of the common cold or flu.

That also means Singapore cannot fully close its borders given its dependence on the rest of the world, although with border restrictions and travel controls imposed as appropriate.

While we cannot always “prevent some infected persons from slipping through from time to time”, Singapore should have the capacity to detect, isolate, and treat infections before they escalate into a large-scale outbreak, while ensuring Singaporean livelihoods continue largely as per normal.


Overall, Lee declares that “if we stay united and continue to work together, we will progressively open up and achieve our aim.” He lays out a vision for a fully vaccinated and safe Singapore where we can all enjoy our lives much as before, participating in religious services and travelling overseas, or even — wait for it — go maskless.

”At least outdoors”, according to him. How promising.

Featured Image: Youtube (CNA)