National Development Minister Lawrence Wong thanked healthcare workers and other Singaporeans who have contributed to the fight against the COVID-19 outbreak.
In his ministerial statement in Parliament, Mr Wong, who co-chairs a multi-ministry task force to tackle the coronavirus, noted how “the best of Singaporeans” have been on display during these difficult times.
He cited examples of how different groups have been “working flat out” to fight the virus outbreak.
They include healthcare workers who have made many sacrifices while working tirelessly to care for patients and public officials from various government agencies who put out communication materials on new measures and ensuring smooth implementation.
Mr Wong also mentioned the unsung heroes in industries such as cleaning, security, airport management, media, hotels, food and beverage (F&B), transport that provide services to Singaporeans.
“There are many Singaporeans who have stepped up in their own ways looking after one another and caring for our fellow Singaporeans. Words are not sufficient to express our appreciation for …” said Mr Wong, as he became emotional and teared.
While Singapore remains “at the beginning of a very long fight” against the COVID-19 outbreak, he called for all to “rally together and rise to this challenge”.
“As SG United, we can beat the virus together and we will emerge stronger and toughened after this crisis,” he added.
Government has not ruled out more drastic measures
Mr Wong also said that the Government has not ruled out more drastic measures should the number of infected cases continue to rise, despite the current safeguards. These include the need to suspend schools and close workplaces.
“If the situation worsens, we will apply extra brakes; if the situation improves, we can ease off and go back. Not to zero, but to a less stringent set of measures, because the pandemic will probably still not be over for quite a while,” he added.
The Government had to introduce its latest set of measures to increase social distancing because there remain anecdotes of people going to nightspots and gathering together in large groups, Mr Wong told the House.
“We have to move faster…Our big worry is that these can become super-spreader events, spawning new clusters and potential runaway outbreaks,” he said.
38,000 people on coronavirus stay-home notice
Mr Wong also revealed that there are now 38,000 people who are serving out stay-home notices, and their numbers will rise as more Singaporeans return from abroad.
Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam also told Parliament that those who breach SHN will be charged in court.
The Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) has so far SHN enforced them through means like text messages, calls and surprise visits.
Those who fail to comply face prosecution under Section 21A of the Infectious Diseases Act (IDA) and may be fined up to S$10,000, jailed up to six months or both.
Mr Shanmugam also said that MOH will be setting out new regulations under the IDA.
Those who falsely declare their travel history to avoid being issued with stay-home notices may also be prosecuted under the law, said the minister.