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Singapore will have to ‘learn to carry on with our lives even with Covid-19 in our midst’: PM Lee

SINGAPORE — For years to come, small outbreaks of Covid-19 should be expected in Singapore from time to time, as the coronavirus is expected to remain with humankind and be endemic in the world, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said during a national televised speech on Monday (May 31).

Singapore will have to ‘learn to carry on with our lives even with Covid-19 in our midst’: PM Lee

Living with Covid-19 in this post-pandemic world means that Singapore cannot completely close its borders, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said.

SINGAPORE — For years to come, small outbreaks of Covid-19 should be expected in Singapore from time to time, as the coronavirus is expected to remain with humankind and be endemic in the world, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said during  a national televised speech on Monday (May 31).

In this new normal, countries which are united and disciplined and have put in place sensible safeguards will be able to reopen their economies, reconnect to the rest of the world, grow and prosper, he said.

“Singapore will be among these countries, more confident and resilient than before, and toughened by what we have overcome together as one nation.” 

PM Lee also explained why Singapore had to readjust its strategy towards Covid-19, describing what life could resemble after the pandemic fades away.

“In this new normal, we will have to learn to carry on with our lives even with the virus in our midst.

“Our aim must be to keep the community as a whole safe, while accepting that some people may get infected every now and then. Just as we do with the common flu or dengue fever, which we now manage through public health measures and personal precautions,” he added.

“One day, this global pandemic will subside. But I do not expect Covid-19 to disappear.” 

Living with Covid-19 in this post-pandemic world therefore means that Singapore cannot completely close its borders, PM Lee said.

“We need food, essential supplies, workers, business and other travellers to keep on flowing. We must stay connected to the world, with effective safeguards and border restrictions to keep Singaporeans safe.” 

And while Singapore will not be able to prevent some infected persons from slipping through its defences, a mostly vaccinated Singapore population and the country's ability to trace, isolate and treat the cases that pop up will prevent a severe and disastrous outbreak.

“Singapore’s priority is to get through this pandemic and position ourselves strongly for the future, even as the virus continues to rage around us. If we stay united and continue to work together, we will be able to progressively open up and achieve our aim.”

Then, describing this new world, Mr Lee said: “In the new normal, Covid-19 will not dominate our lives. Our people will be mostly vaccinated, and possibly take booster shots every year.”

Singaporeans will also be tested quickly, easily and often, and will be able to go to work or school, meet friends and family, participate in religious services, and enjoy entertainment and sports events.

“We will reopen our borders safely. Visitors will again come to Singapore. Singaporeans will travel again to countries where the disease is well under control, especially if we have been vaccinated.

“And eventually we will even go about without masks again, at least outdoors.”

Right now, Singapore is “some ways off from this happy state”, Mr Lee said.

“But we are heading in the right direction.” 

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