Singapore's trade minister said Friday in a virtual interview on the sidelines of the Bloomberg New Economy Forum that officials need "a few more days" before deciding whether to loosen strict virus limitations that have been in place for almost two months.
When asked if the limits will be extended beyond November 21, when they are set to expire, Singapore Minister for Trade and Industry Gan Kim Yong said, "It's extremely difficult to answer, because it's still too early." Gan is also a co-chair of the government task team in charge of the city-virus-prevention state's efforts.
The most recent round of Covid restrictions went into effect on September 27 in the midst of the city-biggest state's virus outbreak yet, and include making working from home the default and limiting social gatherings to two. In October, the restrictions were extended for another month.
In recent weeks, the number of cases has steadied and begun to fall, indicating that Singapore's newest outbreak is winding down. Cases in the neighborhood fell below 2,000 for the third time in the last week, down from a peak of 4,650 on Oct. 27. As a crucial criterion for easing, the government has focused on the week-over-week ratio of community Covid cases. It wants to see the number fall below one, which it has done 15 times in the last 16 days.
Hospitals have also experienced a reduction in pressure. Due to a combination of reduced Covid cases in recent weeks and a ramping up of capacity, more than 40% of public ICU beds in the city-state are presently unoccupied.
Since last week, the government has been gradually lifting restrictions, such as permitting five members from the same household to dine at restaurants and introducing certain trial programs to minimize social separation measures.
“We are hoping that we’ll be able to make some review and see whether there will be opportunity for us to make some adjustments,” Gan told Bloomberg TV’s Haslinda Amin. He added that officials will still need “a few more days” to monitor the effects of the latest relaxation of rules, and make a quick assessment before Monday.