SINGAPORE — About 250,000 people in Singapore have received their first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in his Chinese New Year message on Thursday (11 February).
This should bring new hope to the Year of the Ox, as Singaporeans can look forward to more carefree celebrations when the COVID-19 pandemic is over, PM Lee said.
"Countries with serious outbreaks, which have started mass vaccinations, have begun to bring down their new cases," he added.
"We have vaccinated most frontline and essential workers, and are now vaccinating our seniors, starting with those over 70. Provided vaccine supplies come in as scheduled, we should be able to offer vaccinations to our whole population within this year.
"I strongly encourage everyone to take the vaccine when it is your turn. Vaccination protects ourselves, and our loved ones. Furthermore, if enough of us are vaccinated, our population will have herd immunity.
"But we are not there yet, so in the meantime please keep up our safe distancing precautions, even if you yourself have been vaccinated."
COVID-19 situation stabilised, thanks to Singaporeans: PM Lee
PM Lee said that Singapore's COVID-19 situation has stabilised, thanks to the "tremendous efforts" of Singaporeans in controlling the spread of the virus, treating the infected, and preventing the country's healthcare system from being overwhelmed, even at great economic cost.
"We have avoided the disastrous outbreaks and the enormous pain and suffering experienced by many other countries. We have restarted most of our economy, and are cautiously resuming cross-border travel," he added.
"As we welcome the Year of the Ox, we can look back and give thanks that we have come through the Year of the Rat, not without trouble, but relatively unscathed."
He thanked Singaporeans for their continued support for the tough restrictions the Singapore government has had to implement, but added that stricter measures during the Chinese New Year festive season are necessary, as the virus is still spreading rapidly around the world.
"This January, we saw the new waves of infection caused by year-end celebrations in many countries, where many people gathered and let their guard down. This is something we should learn from and avoid," he said.
"I know these restrictions will dampen the festive atmosphere somewhat. Bigger extended families will be especially inconvenienced. But the precautions are essential to keep our loved ones safe. I am sure you will find other ways to hold your reunions and connect with family members and friends, perhaps through video calls or teleconferencing."
Thanking essential workers amid CNY period
PM Lee also paid tribute to the essential workers who continue to keep Singapore going during the festive period.
"As we celebrate Chinese New Year, let us also show our appreciation for the essential workers who are making personal sacrifices to keep Singapore going during this festive period: our healthcare workers, transport staff, cleaners, migrant workers, delivery riders and many more," he said.
"Many of our Malay, Indian and Eurasian friends will be working, covering for their Chinese colleagues. They deserve our heart-felt thanks."
PM Lee ended his message by wishing all Singaporeans good health, and a very happy Chinese New Year.
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