KUALA LUMPUR, April 3 – Singapore will close most workplaces and implement full home-based learning for schools for a month, amid the coronavirus outbreak that has infected over 1,100 people in the country.
“As the situation developed over the past weeks, we have tightened our safe-distancing measures progressively,” Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said in an address today, as reported by Channel News Asia.
“Singaporeans have responded well, calmly and responsibly, and made adjustments in their daily lives. By working together, we have kept the outbreak under control,” he added.
“But looking at the trend, I am worried that unless we take further steps, things will gradually get worse or another big cluster may push things over the edge,” he said. “We have decided that instead of tightening incrementally over the next few weeks, we should make a decisive move now, to pre-empt escalating infections.
“We will therefore impose significantly stricter measures. This is like a circuit breaker.”
The country recorded 65 new cases today, bringing the national total to 1,114. Five deaths have also been reported as at noon today.
With exception of essential services and key economic sectors, most workplaces will be closed.
“Food establishments, markets and supermarkets, clinics, hospitals, utilities, transport and key banking services will remain open. They are essential services,” Lee added.
“We also should not disrupt economic sectors that are strategic or form part of a global supply chain. People working in these industries can continue to go to work, with safe-distancing measures in place. But most other work premises must close.”
The country will also implement full home-based learning in schools and institutes of higher learning from April 8.
“We started with one day of home-based learning this week. This has gone smoothly, with some teething issues being resolved,” Lee explained.
“All pre-school and student care centres will also be closed, but will provide limited services for children of parents who have to continue working and are unable to make alternative care arrangements.”
Apart from that, gatherings must only be limited to within a household, while residents have been told to avoid visiting extended family members in other households, especially if they are vulnerable or elderly.
“The spirit of these measures is to get all of us to minimise physical contact. If we don’t go out, if we avoid contact with others, then the virus won’t be able to spread. It is as simple as that,” the Singapore PM said.
The government will also start distributing reusable masks to all households, and will “no longer discourage” people from wearing masks.
“We now think there are some cases out there in the community going undetected, though probably still not that many.
“We also now have evidence that an infected person can show no symptoms and yet still pass on the virus to others,” he further added.