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Explained: Singapore’s roadmap to ‘new normal’ of living with COVID-19

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New roadmap would see island nation treating COVID-19 as an endemic, like avian flu or chickenpox.

Explained: Singapore’s roadmap to ‘new normal’ of living with COVID-19
Singapore unveiled a new roadmap this week to deal with COVID-19. The new plan was proposed by three members of Singapore’s COVID-19 task force -- Gan Kim Yong, Lawrence Wong and Ong Ye Kung. The new roadmap would see the tiny Asian nation treat COVID-19 as an endemic, like say the avian flu.
Here is all you need to know about Singapore’s ‘new normal.’
What is New Roadmap?
The new roadmap for Singapore to deal with COVID-19 will see a gradual easing up of restrictions. The country will stop counting daily cases of COVID-19. The city-state will instead monitor case outcomes -- number of hospitalisations required, ICU interventions, number of deaths.
The country would also allow people inside the city to travel freely and let go of measures like lockdowns and contact tracing. Singapore plans to help its citizens get used to living with COVID-19.
Previous Model
Through the COVID-19 pandemic, Singapore only reported 36 casualties. The country managed this incredible feat by following a ‘zero-transmission model.’ The country would aggressively test, trace and quarantine all individuals suspected of coming into contact with COVID-19 positive patients. Strict quarantine measures and lockdowns were also imposed to restrict the spread of the disease.
But for Singapore, which relies on tourism and trade as a major source of its revenue, these restrictions have come with a heavy economic burden.
Though there are emerging variants like Delta, it will be increasingly difficult to carry on with such strict restrictions across the country. Economic turmoil will be followed by pandemic fatigue in such cases.
It is for this reason that the COVID-19 task force in the country has proposed the new model of dealing with the coronavirus.
“The bad news is that COVID-19 may never go away. The good news is that it is possible to live normally with it in our midst,” said Singapore's Trade Minister Gan Kim Yong, Finance Minister Lawrence Wong and Health Minister Ong Ye Kung, in an op-ed in the Straits Times last week.
“We can turn the pandemic into something much less threatening, like influenza, hand, foot and mouth disease, or chickenpox, and get on with our lives,” Kung added.
How will Singapore Deal with Infections?
A crucial part of Singapore’s strategy is going to be mass vaccination. While vaccination cannot fully protect against emerging variants, it still offers significant protection against symptomatic cases of COVID-19 and hospitalisation.
“Vaccines are highly effective in reducing the risk of infection as well as transmission. Even if you are infected, vaccines will help prevent severe COVID-19 symptoms,” the three ministers said in their joint statement.
The country plans to vaccine two-thirds of its adult population with at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine by August 9, Singapore’s National Day. With current vaccination rates, the country appears to well on its way to hit the target.
Other important steps include introducing faster COVID-19 testing. While RT-PCR tests are the golden standard for testing for SARS CoV-2, faster methods have been developed and will soon be adopted in Singapore.
“With vaccination, testing, treatment and social responsibility, it may mean that in the near future, when someone gets COVID-19, our response can be very different from now,” the statement said.
Singapore’s new roadmap may pave the path for other countries as the world adjusts to living with COVID-19.