If you’re like my colleague, you’d have thought that the multi-ministry task force that was set up to fight COVID-19 conducts a virtual press conference daily, and that you’re only reading news that interest you.
Well, no. If not, Lawrence Wong’s hair would be so short, he’d be spotting a recruit’s cut.
During the Circuit Breaker period, there were regular press conferences; once every two or three days. Back then, we cried at every press conference; in one they spoke about the closure of bubble tea. In another, they said that certain TCM halls can be opened but bubble tea shops remained close.
When Phase Two kicked in, there were fewer press conferences. The last one was held last Friday (17 July 2020), and the latest one was conducted on a Friday as well (24 July 2020).
And unlike press conferences during Circuit Breaker and Phase One, we were not eagerly listening to them unless you run a KTV chain or a bar.
So, what should you not miss during the latest press conference?
Instead of writing them one by one, we’re going to do a concise one so that you’d know more in less time.
Lawrence Gan: You’re just lazy to write—
Vaccine Might be Available in Singapore by End of 2021 Even If It’s Ready Earlier
In recent days, you might’ve been reading about the positive progress of not one, not two but three vaccines, and they might be ready soon.
But hold your horses because even if a vaccine is developed, it needs to be mass-produced, and that’s the tricky part.
Health Ministry director of medical services Prof Kenneth Mak said, “Practically speaking, we expect, realistically, a vaccine to be available perhaps next year rather than this year
“Given the global demand for these vaccines, it may not even be in the beginning of next year but perhaps towards the end of next year, when we might see vaccines produced in sufficient doses, and available then for procurement and to be delivered into Singapore.”
Singapore is, of course, working behind the scene to get the vaccine into Singapore when it’s ready, and is discussing with vaccine developers, pharmaceutical companies and research institutions, but details of these discussions might not be revealed. Health Minister Gan Kim Yong said that “some of these transactions are strategic in nature, and there’s also some business confidentiality involved.”
Singapore is, however, proactively discussing for “early access” to future COVID-19 vaccines.
The best solution?
When a vaccine is found and its developer uses Singapore as a production base.
A vaccine at our doorstep; how cool is that?
40% of Community Cases Engage in Community Activities Even When They’re Sick
It’s been mentioned again and again: if you’re sick, stay home.
Some people don’t seem to get the memo.
According to an analysis of the community cases, a whopping 40% of them still engaged in community activities after the onset of symptoms.
That explains why the list of places infectious COVID-19 patients have been to is getting as long as your to-do list.
Mr Gan said that such behaviour jeopardises the efforts to fight Covid-19 here, and people should see a doctor if they’re unwell and to stay home during medical leave or till swab results return negative.
Since this month, anyone who visits a doctor and is diagnosed with acute respiratory infections would be swabbed for COVID-19.
People Still Go Out Despite Having Fever
It’s not okay to go out when you’re coughing like you’ve just smoked half a box of cigarettes, but it turns out that in the recent cases, some of them even went out when they’ve a fever.
Clinical and scientific evidence has shown that an infected person is most infectious right before and immediately after the start of symptoms, so if you want to be a hero, don’t buy a homeless man a meal and post your act on Facebook; instead, just stay home when you’re sick.
Popular Places with Crowds Might Be Closed Off When It’s Too Crowded
Earlier this week, Singapore discipline master, Environment and Water Resource Minister Masagos Zulkifli, wrote on Facebook about people crowding in places like East Coast Park and Sentosa, and that complacency might have kicked in.
While he promised more enforcement, the task force is taking it to a whole new level.
During Phase Two, the authorities have spotted crowding and poor adherence to safe distancing measures at some hotspots, including popular night spots, beaches, selected malls and parks, as well as in HDB towns.
Other than sending more SIA Girls safe-distancing ambassadors there, the agencies will put in place enhanced crowd control measures at these hotspots. In popular places such as parks and beaches, access to the area would be temporarily closed off as they approach capacity limits to better manage people flows.
So, from now on, you might want to head to NParks’ website to check out the real-time crowd before driving all the way to East Coast Park from Jurong.
Ah Gong Not Playing Hor: 100 Fines Given in Hotspots
Phase Two might seem like Phase Ten, what with the people you see in malls, gathering like we’ve living in 2018.
But no—Ah Gong is still out there ensuring that we obey the rules. Over the last weekend, the National Parks Board issued over 100 fines to individuals who failed to adhere to safe-distancing measures at gardens, parks and nature reserves.
And businesses aren’t spared, too.
Last week, the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) issued suspension notices and fines against two F&B establishments – “Try Again” and “Los Amigos” – along Circular Road, a popular night spot, for continuing to breach measures despite earlier warnings.
Allow me to remind you again: we’re in Phase Two, Not Phase Ten.
Swab Operations in Retail Premises
If you’ve noticed, there are certain supermarkets (and malls) frequented by community cases who are still infectious. Ever wonder if the staff members who attend to them are infected?
Well, wonder no more: turns out that there’s a “swab operation” to test individuals at retail premises frequented by multiple positive cases. MOH recently tested close to 60 staff of Sheng Siong supermarket at New World Centre and over 40 staff at Haniffa supermarket at Dunlop Street.
None tested positive.
Masks are indeed useful, and I hope more people in the US read about this #justsaying
Swab Operations in Workplaces
Lest you’re not aware, since Circuit Breaker ended (don’t rest in peace, you McDonald’s murderer), workplace transmission is one the most common mode of transmission.
Which is why MOH conducted seven swab operations associated with newly emergent workplace clusters, such as Keppel Shipyard and Northpoint City. In these two places, over 1,300 workers were tested, and 2 were detected through this massive sweep. This excludes close contacts of the positive cases.
Yeah, so if your workplace has a few cases, someone’s probably going to dig your nose soon even if you don’t know those people who were infected.
Still No New Cases in “HDB” Cluster
Remember the Tampines HDB “cluster”, whereby a household allegedly infected another household even when they’re not close contacts but live in the same block?
Well, so far, there have been no new cases in the “cluster”. No one knows whether it’s a transmission in a block or it’s a cruel joke by mother nature. Looking at how 2020 has unfolded, the latter seems more likely.
Testing of Waste-Water Ongoing
If this sounds chim, then let’s not hide behind a euphemism and call it what it should be called: testing of shit and urine.
The goal is simple: because our shit and urine contain the coronavirus when we’re infected, authorities can know if a building has any undetected case without having to test everyone by testing the waste-water. You can read more about it here.
This is currently implemented at 34 workers dormitories, and the authorities plan to progressively expand such surveillance to include more workers’ dormitories and other populous living quarters such as nursing homes and hostels.
Dormitory Clusters Should be Cleared By 7 August 2020
Ah Gong usually under-promises and over-delivers (remember when Phase Two kicked in?), and they’re doing it again.
Last week, they said the dormitory clusters should be cleared by the middle of August. In the latest press conference, the date has been brought forward to 7 August 2020.
This means that all the migrant workers in the dormitories would be cleared by then, except for 28,000 workers still serving out their isolation period in the various quarantine facilities
However, that excludes 17 standalone blocks in 8 Purpose Built Dormitories (PBDs), which serve as quarantine facilities.
And as mentioned last week, we can expect more cases to be reported in the next two weeks as the last batch of workers come from dormitories with a relatively high prevalence of COVID-19.
I would think you’re happy for the workers, but you’re also asking about when the renovation for your house can resume. You’re asking because you care for the workers so here goes:
Workers to Resume Work As Soon As Possible
Workers who’ve completed their isolation period and tested negative would be allowed to resume work if their employers meet safety requirements.
This means the ball is now on the employer’s court; if they can make sure that safety isn’t compromised, then renovations for your house can most probably resume next month.
However, the authorities would be keeping a close eye in the construction industry. Mr Gan said, “We do expect to see from time to time Covid-19 cases among the construction industry… so we need to watch carefully to make sure that there are no big clusters.”
Anyone else looking forward to the headlines on 8 August 2020?