‘Never fudge or sugarcoat, never hide’: Josephine Teo on COVID public information

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Minister for Communications and Information Josephine Teo speaking in Parliament on 4 March 2022. (SCREENSHOT: Ministry of Communications and Information/YouTube)
Minister for Communications and Information Josephine Teo speaking in Parliament on 4 March 2022. (SCREENSHOT: Ministry of Communications and Information/YouTube)

SINGAPORE — The public has strong trust in information on the COVID-19 pandemic provided in Singapore due to the government’s transparency, said Minister for Communications and Information Josephine Teo on Friday (4 March).

The government could not have handled a public health crisis if members of the public didn’t trust health authorities or didn't believe the information they were receiving, said Teo, who was speaking at her ministry’s Committee of Supply debate in Parliament.

”That is precisely why from the very outset, we resolved to keep the public informed as fully and as expeditiously as possible. We were determined to tell it as it is, never fudge or sugarcoat, never hide,” she added.

Teo cited polls that show three in four members of the public think that the government has provided sufficient information on COVID-19 in recent months. Over 86 per cent of them agreed that the public messages helped guide their decision to get vaccinated, she said.

“As the Prime Minister observed recently, if we have been a low trust society, people would not have understood the need for safe management measures, or abided by them. Our infection rates would be higher, far fewer people would be vaccinated, and many more people would have died.”

Appropriate laws are in place to preserve the public trust. The Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (Pofma) has enabled the authorities to take “swift action” on 20 occasions to curb COVID-19 related misinformation and prevent falsehoods from taking root, Teo said.

The Ministry of Communications and Information has also engaged the public by expanding its communications channels and launching campaigns like Vaccination SG to support Singapore’s vaccination drive. REACH has expanded its digital outreach through e-listening points and virtual dialogues. These have led to more than 70,000 Singaporeans contributing feedback to REACH, up from 59,000 in 2020, Teo said.

On Thursday, the Ministry of Health (MOH) confirmed 18,162 new COVID-19 cases, down from 19,159 infections a day earlier.

Of them, 17991 are local – 15,575 were detected via antigen rapid tests (ART) and 2,416 via polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests. The remaining 171 are imported – 94 were detected via ART and 77 via PCR tests.

A total of nine COVID-19 related deaths in Singapore were also reported on Thursday, bringing the death toll to 1,049.

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