Singapore aiming to live with flu-like ‘endemic’ Covid-19 – dpa international


Outside Singapore’s parliament building (Simon Roughneen)

DUBLIN — Singapore’s government on Thursday said it should be possible “to live normally” with Covid-19, which it expects to become “endemic” like influenza.

The three ministers responsible for the government’s coronavirus response announced “a broad plan” to “turn the pandemic into something much less threatening.”

Pointing to the example of influenza, Trade Minister Gan Kim Yong, Finance Minister Lawrence Wong and Health Minister Ong Ye Kung said that “we can work towards a similar outcome for Covid-19.”

“Instead of monitoring Covid-19 infection numbers every day, we will focus on the outcomes,” they wrote in The Straits Times newspaper. “This is like how we now monitor influenza.”

“People live with it [flu],” the ministers said. “They carry on with their daily activities even during the flu season, taking simple precautions or getting an annual flu jab.”

The government hope to have two-thirds of Singapore’s 5.7 million people fully vaccinated against Covid-19 by August 9, Singapore’s national holiday, and to provide large-scale rapid testing that would enable events to be staged and travel to resume.

“We need to make Covid-19 testing fast and easy,” they said, citing the development by local scientists of one-minute breathalysers.

“We cannot rely only on the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test, which can be uncomfortable and takes many hours to produce results,” the ministers added.

Singapore’s Health Ministry on Thursday reported 23 new coronavirus cases, taking the total to almost 62,500, most of which were recorded last year.

Singapore’s virus-related death toll, at 35, is one of the world’s lowest. The government this week allowed in-person dining at restaurants to resume, ending a brief ban put in place after a slight rise in case numbers.

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