COVID-19: Singapore 'quite a distance' from Dorscon Red – Gan Kim Yong

Nicholas Yong
Assistant News Editor

SINGAPORE — Despite an enhanced set of social distancing measures that includes the closure of schools and most workplaces, Singapore is still “quite a distance” from the country’s highest alert level for a disease outbreak, said Health Minister Gan Kim Yong on Friday (3 April).

Addressing a virtual press conference, the co-chair of a COVID-19 multi-ministry taskforce was asked what exactly constituted the Red status of the Disease Outbreak Response System Condition (Dorscon). It was pointed out that the definition of Dorscon Red includes the closure of schools and work-from-home orders.

Gan, who had “categorically” denied that the country is moving into Dorscon Red, noted that such an alert level would involve “uncontrollable outbreaks” and widespread community transmission. This would then make contact tracing, containment and quarantine exceedingly difficult.

However, the minister noted that Singapore has not given up on those three strategies. “We are stepping up our capacity in order for us to do contract tracing, to as far as possible ring fence the transmission, to contain it so as to reduce the number of new cases (and) the number of unlinked cases gradually.”

He added, “So I think we are not yet in Dorscon Red and we are quite a distance from Dorscon Red.”

Gan has often been asked at press conferences whether the country will raise its alert level from the current Orange to Red.

According to Gov.sg, Dorscon is a colour-coded framework that shows the current disease situation. There are four statuses – Green, Yellow, Orange and Red, depending on the severity and spread of the disease.

For each status, it details the impact on the community, such as the measures to be taken in daily life, including temperature screening and border control measures.

Lockdown in Singapore

Separately, Gan’s fellow co-chair Lawrence Wong also responded to a question on how far the country is from a lockdown. Wong has also addressed the issue multiple times in press conferences, noting that the term is used loosely and has different implications in different countries.

Acknowledging that the new measures constitute a “significant tightening” of social distancing rules, the National Development Minister nevertheless noted, “But with these measures, we are not stopping all work. We are not shutting down the economy. Essential businesses will continue. We are not stopping people from going out if they really need to, for work where it's essential, or to get their food, groceries or even to exercise amongst their own family members.”

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