Too early to discuss Phase 3 or easing of rules: multi-ministry taskforce

IT IS still too early to discuss Phase 3 of Singapore's reopening or relaxing safe distancing rules, even as the authorities continue to monitor coronavirus cases, which have gone up in the community of late, said the Multi-Ministry Taskforce (MTF) on Covid-19 on Thursday. 

The taskforce had previously said that it would take "months" before Singapore reaches the third and final stage of its phased reopening, when it will operate in a "steady state" before a vaccine is available. 

But it is "still early days" to look at reopening more premises or easing restrictions, said taskforce co-chair and National Development Minister Lawrence Wong, emphasising that the authorities still need to monitor the current situation. 

This comes as the number of community cases - including unlinked ones - has risen with the start of Phase 2, which started about two weeks ago.

The taskforce said that in the past week, there has been an average of eight new community cases a day; of this number, an average of four a day are unlinked. This is an increase from around five community cases a day in the last week of Phase One, with about two a day being unlinked.

"Many" of those cases are picked up from the authorities' expanded testing strategy, under which tests are conducted more extensively among key groups in the community, such as those deemed vulnerable or who have a higher risk of exposure to Covid-19. But serology tests have shown some of them to be the result of recent infections, said Mr Wong. 

With more activities and interactions in Phase 2, the risk of transmission and subsequent forming of clusters may be higher. Mr Wong therefore urged the public to stay vigilant and uphold safe-distancing measures, so that the authorities may continue with a "progressive approach of resuming activities safely". 

As of Thursday noon, 188 new cases of Covid-19 were confirmed in Singapore, including 10 community cases. Of the new community cases, eight are Singaporeans or permanent residents and two are work-pass holders. 

There is also one imported case of a patient who had been placed on stay-home notice or isolated upon arrival in Singapore. Migrant workers living in dormitories make up the vast majority of the other cases.