SINGAPORE —The Singapore government is not expecting the country to move out of Phase 3 of its reopening "anytime soon", said Senior Minister of State for Health Janil Puthucheary in Parliament on Thursday (25 February).
"Phase 3 is a new normal which will last until such time when there is evidence on vaccine effectiveness in preventing future outbreaks, a substantial proportion of the population is vaccinated, and the rest of the world also has the virus under control," he said while responding to a query from Yio Chu Kang Member of Parliament Yip Hon Weng.
Yip had asked about the Ministry of Health's plans for easing out of Phase 3, the criteria needed for Phase 3 restrictions to be eased, and whether a certain vaccination rate has to be achieved for this to happen.
Dr Puthucheary said that while the vaccines approved for use in Singapore have been shown to be effective in providing protection against COVID-19, more evidence is needed to show that they also prevent transmission of the coronavirus. He added that the government is also monitoring the vaccines' effectiveness against COVID-19 variants.
"Meanwhile, our best strategy is to continue to be disciplined about safe management measures, and achieve a high level of vaccination within our population to boost our collective immunity," said Dr Puthucheary.
Thus far, Singapore has received shipments of three COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Sinovac Biotech. Only Sinovac's CoronaVac vaccine has yet to receive approval from the Health Sciences Authority to be used here.
Since Singapore entered Phase 3 on 28 December, there has been an increase in COVID-19 outbreaks around the world as well as the emergence of more transmissible variants of the coronavirus, said Dr Puthucheary. There was also a rise in unlinked cases and community clusters here several weeks ago.
Due to these factors, community safety measures here were tightened while the pace and scale of the resumption of activities were also recalibrated.
Stressing the need to remain vigilant, Dr Puthucheary said that safe measurement measures would still need to be adjusted from time to time given the "dynamic situation" around the world.
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