Singapore on track to treat Covid-19 as endemic despite speed bumps


The Singapore government is looking into relaxing rules for the fully-vaccinated in August, and the possibility of quarantine-free travel in the near future, said co-chair of the multi-ministry task force Lawrence Wong who was delivering a ministerial statement in Parliament on Monday.

This comes as 80 per cent of Singapore’s 5.7 million population is expected to be fully vaccinated by September.

Singapore has started moving towards living with Covid-19, with most restrictions expected to be lifted soon

A review will be done in early August, and if the virus situation is stable, Wong shared that the government will look into reviewing restrictions for fully-vaccinated individuals, ahead of August 18 (the supposed end date of Phase 2 Heightened Alert).

This, however, depends on infection clusters being controlled and hospitalisation rates remaining low. As such, individuals who want to dine in at a restaurant or exercise in a gym will also have to be fully vaccinated. The same goes for those who want to attend a large event or religious service with more than 100 people.

There’s also a possibility that Singapore residents who have received two doses would not need to serve a 14-day hotel quarantine when they return from overseas. Eventually, people may also be allowed without masks outdoors.

Should travel corridors be established, it will be with countries or regions where Covid-19 is under control.

Health minister Ong Ye Kung further stated that once effective vaccination of the population has been reached, Covid-19 would be treated like the flu – without contract tracing and quarantine in dedicated facilities. Hospitalisation will only be for those seriously ill.

He added that there will be shifts in health protocols, and if Covid-19 was to be endemic, having 200 or more cases a day may not be unusual. During the influenza season, infection rates numbered around 1,000 a day.

Certain health protocols are already in effect, for instance, the city-state has been admitting more Covid-19 patients aged 17 to 45 directly to community care facilities instead of hospitals. This age bracket will be expanded to age 59.

It has also shortened the length of stays in hospitals and community care facilities from 21 days to 14 days for the fully-vaccinated, and lets those who are fully inoculated serve quarantine at home instead of at government facilities.

However, Wong warned that new variants may also emerge, and could be more transmissible or lethal, which may force the government to reintroduce restrictions from time to time.

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