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Singapore envoy: ‘We take risk’

Gabbie Parlade

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The Singapore Ambassador to the Philippines on Tuesday said that risk will always be inevitable in opening the economy in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic as proper management is only needed to control the spread of cases.

In an exclusive interview with Daily Tribune, Ambassador Gerard Ho Wei Hong said it is important for the government to make careful decisions that weigh both the economic and health situation of the country.

“We know that even with any country as long as you open up you always risk importation of cases,” he said.

“But I think the way the government sees it is where they can manage risk that would be beneficial to the economy at the same time to the health consideration,” he also added.

In recent weeks, the Singaporean government reported that it has been seeing imported cases of infection even with a more stabilized response in the pandemic already in place.

This has prompted a mandate for individuals such as those from the Philippines, Indonesia and India to acquire a negative RT-PCR result 72 hours prior to their travel.

Despite this, Hong said that Singapore is still eyeing to reopen its economy provided that they strictly adhere to the management of cases.

“We are so connected to the world… there are plans to gradually open up the country and having different systems and protocols in place calibrated according to the situation is essential,” he said.

Among their three main strategies include detection of infected individuals through regular testing of high-risk groups, containment via rapid identification and a robust contact tracing.

Singapore was able to keep community transmissions from happening through these measures, he said.

Hong also made mention of a contact tracing application which is being utilized to have a faster tracking of exposed individuals.

However, he noted that there have been difficulties in engaging the public to use it due to privacy concerns.

Above all, he said what’s important is for the government to instill confidence to the public that the current COVID-19 situation in the country will be under control.

As of the latest Johns Hopkins University report, Singapore has been one of the countries in Southeast Asia which has managed to control their increase of COVID-19 cases keeping the cases at over 57,000 with recoveries also tallying at the same rate.

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