Since the start of the reopening, COVID-19 cases in Singapore have been on the rise. In the past few days, the country has seen about 150 new cases per day, with the bulk being from dormitories and around 20 from the community.
Speaking at a multi-ministry taskforce press conference, Minister Lawrence Wong identified that one area everyone can do their part to further reduce the risk of transmission is in workplaces.
Wong noted that since Phase One, about 57% of new cases are linked, with the remaining 43% unlinked.
Make sure that majority of employees continue to work from home
Among the linked cases in the community, the vast majority were cases transmitted through households. Beyond the household, some infections are also taking place in workplaces. According to ST, workplace infections have risen from 22% before Phase Two, to 36% now.
Minister Wong urged businesses, companies, and employers to all step up their safe management practices at work in order to further reduce the risk of transmission at workplaces.
"Making sure that the majority of the employees continue to work from home is one precaution that every employer should continue to take. Beyond that, for those who have to be in office, having split teams, making sure they do not gather together for social activities – these are important precautions that everyone, every employer, should continue to uphold," he said.
Few cases from social interactions
The taskforce also found that very few linked cases in the community took place through social interactions - a key difference from the pattern before the circuit breaker was imposed. This is due to the tight restrictions on social activities. These restrictions will be relaxed over time, the minister noted, adding that this depends on everyone being responsible, vigilant, and doing their part to avoid infections from picking up in these social settings.
"So the picture on the social side is positive – we are not seeing transmissions happening through social interactions. But it is also a reminder for us that we cannot take this for granted. The numbers are low, partly because of today’s restrictions. And, if we want to be able to progressively relax some of these restrictions over time, we do need to step up to take responsibility for our actions, and to ensure that all of us do our part to minimise the spread of the virus," he said.
Construction sector to take extra precaution before resuming work
On the side of the unlinked cases, half are in the construction and construction-related activities, with the vast majority of these cases having been identified through proactive and periodic testing of construction workers every 14 days. Thankfully, about two-thirds of these cases have been identified as older infections, not recent ones.
With the bulk of new cases coming from the construction sector, the taskforce will do these two things:
- Take extra precautions to ensure clearance or dormitories is done rigorously before allowing the workers back to work.
- Ensure contractors put in place new safe management practices - such as split team and appropriate housing arrangements - before work can resume.
The taskforce understands that many things have to be done in the construction sector. New requirements have been put in place, the taskforce is also engaging the industry closely and providing additional support to the contractors as well in order for them to get ready for the restart and resumption of the construction activities.
Minister Wong concluded: "So that is the overall picture that we are seeing today in terms of the community spread, both linked and unlinked cases. We are continuing to monitor this situation very closely. We are stepping up and scaling up testing and tracing to the maximum extent that we can. With all of these measures in place, we certainly will try our very best to continue to control the infection as we proceed through the coming weeks in the Phase 2 of this reopening."
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