Avoid repeat of last year’s spike in COVID-19 cases after Chinese New Year: Lawrence Wong

·Senior Editor
·3-min read
Yusheng, yee sang or yuu sahng 魚生; or Prosperity Toss, is a popular dish to served during chinese new year period especially in Malaysia and Singapore region. This is a Cantonese-style raw fish salad mixed with colourful shredded vegetables, pickles served with variety of sauces, nuts and herbs. Yusheng is a symbol of abundance, prosperity and vitality. Hands of family members lifting food.
Yusheng is a popular dish served during Chinese New Year period. (PHOTO: Getty Images)

SINGAPORE — With the upcoming Chinese New Year (CNY) just weeks away, the government is urging everyone in Singapore to observe safe distancing and personal hygiene measures in order to avoid a repeat of the spike in COVID-19 cases following the same holiday period last year.

“We don't want a repeat of that happening. And that's why we are making a preemptive move now to tighten some of our measures,” Education Minister Lawrence Wong said on Friday (22 January) at a virtual news conference.

Wong, who is the COVID-19 multi-ministry taskforce co-chair, was referring to the new cap of eight distinct visitors per household per day taking effect from 26 January, amid a rise in the number of community cases and emergence of new clusters in Singapore recently.

Announcing the measure, Wong said enforcement officers will do random spot checks on households to ensure compliance.

Individuals should also limit themselves to visiting at most two other households a day, as much as possible, he added.

Wong also reiterated that face masks must be worn during lohei – tossing of a raw fish salad called yusheng – while in restaurants and shouting of auspicious phrases, be it by patrons or staff members, is discouraged.

Cases linked to last year’s CNY

On 25 January last year, the first day of CNY, Singapore reported its first-ever COVID-19 case. In the subsequent weeks, the number of community cases surged.

Among them, two COVID-19 clusters were linked to a CNY family gathering attended by those who were infected, the multi-ministry taskforce said on 25 February last year.

On Friday, the Ministry of Health reported one new COVID-19 case in the community and 14 more imported infections, taking Singapore’s total case count to 59,250.

The sole community case marks the ninth day in a row where new community infections have been reported. In addition, there are currently six live clusters of COVID-19 cases in Singapore.

Protect elderly persons

The government is urging everyone to curb their contacts with friends and minimise the number of family visits during CNY.

“We would strongly encourage everyone to keep in touch with your friends virtually rather than have physical meetings. And if you do want to have physical visits, limit these visits to your family members only,” Wong said.

Health Minister Gan Kim Yong, who was also at the conference, advised everyone to observe safe distancing measures and personal hygiene to protect the health of elderly persons.

“When you visit your seniors or any other family members, remember to wash your hands when you arrive at the home. Make sure that you keep your mask on as much as possible... exercise caution, always bear in mind the safety of the seniors,” said Gan, who is also the co-chair of the MTF.

The government is undertaking various measures and has issued related statements in the run-up to CNY as it steps up efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19 in the community.

The prevailing COVID-19 related rules at F&B establishments will apply to reunion dinners held within them.

The MTF will also step up enforcement checks at F&B establishments, malls, and other crowded public spaces during this period.

It will also carry out surveillance testing for stallholders, shop owners, persons in the F&B industry, as well as food delivery persons operating in and around Chinatown. The testing will take place from 8 to 9 February.

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