City’s vision of a new normal . . .
Last week, Singaporean officials laid out a roadmap to a post-COVID world that would significantly reduce efforts invested in managing the disease. Under the plan, the country will implement approaches similar to those used for endemic diseases like influenza or chickenpox to monitor COVID-19. As one of the first in Asia to commence its vaccination campaign, Singapore is on track to have two-thirds of its population fully vaccinated by early August. Nearly 62 per cent of its total population has received at least one dose of either the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine.
Learning to live with COVID-19 . . .
Despite several spikes in infections in recent months, Singapore has kept community transmission under control, reporting only six new cases on July 5. Under the proposed ‘new normal,’ testing will be used only for specific situations such as large events or international travel and will involve less costly equipment like breathalyzers rather than PCR tests. Contact tracing and quarantine of close contacts will also be scrapped, and those infected will be allowed to isolate at home. Singapore will still track deaths and severe cases that require intensive care, as they are indicators of the health-care system’s capacity.
Model to follow . . .
While Singapore is gearing up for a return to something approximating a pre-COVID-19 normal, some of its neighbours are imposing heavier restrictions in response to new transmission waves fuelled by more contagious variants. Indonesia is experiencing its worst surge, pushing hospitals to their limits, and the government has imposed emergency public activity restrictions. Since June 1, Malaysia has been on its third country-wide lockdown, with only five states able to partially lift restrictions this week. And in Australia, over 12 million people are living under lockdown in seven cities. Singapore’s new COVID-19 approach is possible due to its relatively high vaccination rate. The city’s roadmap may present a possible model for Canada to follow, since nearly 70 per cent of the Canadian population has received at least one vaccine dose. The crucial lesson is that high vaccination rates hold the key to normalcy and making COVID-19 little more troublesome than the flu.
- Australian Broadcasting Corporation: As Australia contemplates its pandemic exit strategy, Singapore's roadmap to living with COVID-19 could offer insights
CNBC: Singapore targets 75% vaccination so border restrictions can be gradually eased
CTV News Canada: Singapore wants to stop counting COVID-19 cases. Its roadmap could be a model for other countries