In a press conference on 17 July, Minister Lawrence Wong, co-chair of Singapore's Multi-Ministry Taskforce on COVID-19 provided key updates on the nation's fight against the pandemic. These included clearance of workers in dormitories, imported cases and travel advisory, and stay-home notice guidelines. 

Update 1: Clearance of workers in dormitories

"We are in the final stretch of this clearance work," Minister Wong said. "Thus far, we have used a combination of different techniques including serology tests and PCR tests to clear the workers, and we have been making good progress."

Currently, Singapore has around 230,000 workers (out of the total over 300,000) who have either recovered or have tested to be free from the virus. This includes workers in the dormitories - be it Purpose Built Dormitories or Factory Converted Dormitories. The remaining workers have all been isolated. They are mostly waiting for their final exit tests, as it were, to be tested at the end of isolation.

He cautioned that as the last groups of workers are cleared, more of them are testing positive. "And that is why you have seen some increase in the COVID cases from the dormitories in recent days, including today. We expect this trend to continue over the coming days."

The entire task is expected to be completed by mid-August – possibly earlier than that – after which the workers can resume work safely.

Update 2: Imported cases

Minister Wong stressed that the external environment remains one where the virus is spreading very quickly. Even countries that had controlled the virus successfully before are now seeing a resurgence of cases. The cases from overseas coming in through Singapore's borders represents another risk, which is why the Government is monitoring the situation very carefully.

"Our overall advisory remains for everyone in Singapore not to travel. To avoid all travel – that remains the overall posture for now."

Update 3: Stay-home notice guidelines

At the same time, the situation in various countries is being assessed and border measures being updates accordingly. For example, travelers with recent travel history, including transit, to the State of Victoria in Australia, Japan and Hong Kong will now be required to serve their Stay-Home Notices at dedicated facilities instead of their own place of residence, effective 19 July 2359.

Minister Wong explained: "As we have repeatedly emphasised, our border measures are not static; they are not cast in stone. We are constantly reviewing, updating them based on our assessment of the viral situation around the world in different countries."

Rounding up, he emphasised: "This is a long fight for the world as it is for Singapore. You can see around the world now, the number of cases globally continues to rise. It is not plateauing; it is rising. In some countries you are seeing a resurgence, in some countries it has not even been controlled at all, and the cases are still accelerating."

"We need everyone to cooperate and do their part in terms of individual actions and social responsibility too. If we do all that, we have a good chance of continuing to keep COVID-19 under control while we progressively reopen our economy and our society," he added.  

Photo / Minister Lawrence Wong's Facebook