Singapore, a country that has handled the COVID-19 pandemic efficiently, has now announced a fundamentally different approach to managing the pandemic. The plan is to live with the virus since it may never go away. The city-state has decided to treat Covid like any other endemic disease such as influenza.
Singapore's three ministers of a multi-ministry task force on coronavirus said that the coronavirus might never go away, but it is possible to live "normally with it in our midst." They believe living with the virus would be the "new normal."
Vaccination is the key
The multi-ministry task force on coronavirus believes that COVID-19 can be managed like any other endemic diseases like common flu with enough vaccination. By early next month, Singapore aims to vaccinate two-thirds of the entire population with at least one dose of the two-dose vaccines.
Their next milestone would be to fully vaccinate two-thirds of the people with two doses by early August, around Singapore's National Day. Although some fully vaccinated locals in Singapore have tested positive for COVID-19, none of them has severe symptoms.
The new normal
As per the "new normal", travellers will not be required to quarantine, and the close contact of Covid cases will not have to isolate. People who test Covid positive will be allowed to recover at home, putting less stress on the healthcare system. The testing kits would also be available at local pharmacies, the multi-ministry task force said, facilitating self-administered tests such as breathalysers. Moreover, testing will screen people entering office buildings, schools, malls, and other places, and it will not be used as a tool to quarantine people.
The Singapore government also plans not to announce daily numbers of Covid cases. As per the outlined plan for the new normal, the focus would shift from daily updates on infection number to outcomes, like keeping count of patients falling very sick and needing intensive care, just like any other flu is monitored. Slowly restrictions will be eased, large gatherings will also be allowed in due time, and lockdowns will not disrupt the businesses, as reported by The Hindu.
Travelling restrictions to other countries will also be lifted, but people must have the vaccination certificates in hand. "Finally, whether we can live with COVID-19 depends also on Singaporeans' acceptance that COVID-19 will be endemic and our collective behaviour," said the ministers of the multi-ministry task force on coronavirus.
They also stressed the importance of cohesion and social consciousness in reaching the goal of "new normal." As of today, around 62,544 Covid cases have been reported in Singapore, with 36 deaths.