With COVID-19 cases rising due to the Delta variant, many countries are returning to strict mandates and lockdowns, as seen at the beginning of the pandemic. Singapore, a country that endorsed strict COVID-19 restrictions at the beginning of the pandemic, is now adopting a more lenient model. This model eliminates lockdowns, large-scale contact tracing and travel-related quarantine measures, among other measures. Going even further, Singapore would no longer tally daily COVID-19 cases. Singapore’s latest lenient plan for mitigating COVID-19 aims to help the country quickly recover from the effects of the pandemic.
Vaccination as a Key Component to Singapore’s Plan
The world holds Singapore in high regard for its initial success in containing the pandemic through a swift COVID-19 response and stringent measures. Vaccination is a crucial component to the success of Singapore’s new lenient plan. Singapore’s COVID-19 task force makes it clear that eliminating COVID-19 entirely is not a realistic short-term solution. The task force suggests that learning to properly manage and live with COVID-19 is a much more effective strategy. Singapore’s Health Minister Ong Ye Kung made this clear to the Straits Times. He says, “We can turn the pandemic into something much less threatening, like influenza, hand, foot and mouth disease or chickenpox, and get on with our lives.”
Vaccinations are effective in mitigating the risk of contracting COVID-19. While there is no guarantee that vaccinated individuals will not contract the virus, vaccination helps to mitigate the severity of symptoms experienced, reducing the likelihood of hospitalization and decreasing strain on healthcare systems. Singapore predicts that about 66% of its population will be fully vaccinated by the end of August 2021. A majority vaccinated population will allow the country to employ this lenient model without significant harm.
Immediate Effects of the Plan
The beginning of this more lenient plan has shown a spike in cases connected to the opening of a karaoke lounge. Singapore reported 56 cases on July 14, 2021, 41 of which were tied to karaoke lounges. While this number may seem low, it is the highest spike Singapore has experienced in 10 months. As a consequence, Singapore has reevaluated its leniency, tightening restrictions once more and slowing down the implementation of its plan, with certain exemptions for vaccinated individuals only.
COVID-19’s Disparate Effects on the Impoverished
Like many other countries worldwide, COVID-19 has hit Singapore’s impoverished the hardest. The economic crisis caused by the initial onset of the pandemic forced businesses to close their doors, causing widespread job losses and a decrease in employment opportunities. Low-income families have suffered greatly from job losses and the downturn of the economy. Low-income families have little monetary buffer to support them through economic shocks, and thus, struggle to find the means to purchase food and necessities at an even greater rate than before the pandemic came about.
As Singapore begins to ease restrictions, employers can increase working hours, which will allow job opportunities to arise. Singapore’s lenient plan will allow the economy to fully reopen, allowing those in food service and other service-based jobs to resume employment. This means employees will receive paychecks to help them support themselves and their families.
The Good News
With about 71% of the population in Singapore fully vaccinated as of August 14, 2021, the country is well on its way to a 100% fully vaccinated nation. If Singapore can successfully reopen without significant spikes in COVID-19, then activities should resume as normal. Overall, Singapore’s plan, if successful, will allow the economy to heal and help low-income families begin to recover from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
– Lily Vassalo
Photo: Wikimedia Commons