Singapore must find its own path out of Covid-19 based on the situation here and avoid comparisons to other countries’ recovery plans, says Finance Minister Lawrence Wong.

Drawing examples from China, New Zealand and the West, Wong stressed Singapore’s unique position in his speech at Nanyang Technological University (NTU) Students’ Union Ministerial Forum on Aug 24. 

“We are one of the most highly vaccinated countries in the world. This gives us confidence to reopen safely because vaccinated persons are far less likely to fall severely ill when they catch the virus,” says Wong, who co-chairs the multi-ministry task force on Covid-19.

“So, even if daily infection numbers were to rise, we should be able to keep such ICU cases at an acceptable and stable level,” he adds.


See: Singapore to pilot quarantine-free travel lanes for vaccinated passengers from Germany and Brunei


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Thus, while Singapore bears similarities to China and New Zealand in terms of low infection rates and a population “largely naive to the virus”, Wong points to Singapore’s high vaccination rate for the current relaxed measures. 

Since Aug 10, dining-in at food and beverage establishments has been allowed for groups of up to five vaccinated people. From Aug 19, up to 50% of employees have been allowed back into offices each day. 

As of Aug 23, 78% of the population has received two doses of Covid-19 vaccines, and 82% has received at least one dose.

Lawrence Wong - THE EDGE SINGAPORE

At the same time, the government is wary of a sudden reopening, which could lead to a spike in cases. “We do not want to open up in a big bang like what many Western countries have done, which may cause hospital cases or worse severe illnesses to shoot up,” says Wong. 

Wong’s comments come as Singapore logged 111 new locally transmitted Covid-19 cases on Aug 24, the highest since Aug 1, when 121 new infections were reported. 


See also: Additional $1.1 billion in support for businesses hurt by resumption of tighter measures


“We’re not like US and Europe; neither are we like China and New Zealand. We have to find our own path forward based on our circumstances,” says Wong.

“If you look around the world, we are one of the few countries that has been able to manage the pandemic while keeping our hospital system intact and maintaining a low death toll. That remains our over-riding objective: to get to the end of this pandemic with as little death and damage as possible, even as we progressively resume more of our normal lives.”

Photos: Nanyang Technological University Students' Union