‘Measures may be prolonged’

  • Singapore
  • Tuesday, 07 Apr 2020

Preventive measure: A man wearing a face mask as he walks out of a shopping mall on Orchard Road in Singapore. — AFP

Circuit breaker measures that take effect this week may be extended beyond May 4 if the spread of the coronavirus is not controlled over the next month, said Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing.And he stressed that the success of the containment measures depends heavily on Singaporeans.

“If we all remain united, if we all take the measures seriously, and if we are successful in controlling the spread in the next one month, then we will be able to progressively resume normalcy and to reduce the impact of the measures,” he said yesterday.

“On the other hand, if we do not take the measures seriously, and if in the next one month we are unable to control the situation, then that might require us to extend the period ... and that will inflict even greater damage to our economy,” he added.

Chan said it was in the collective interest of all Singaporeans to work together and beat the inconveniences in the coming month.

“Let us get over this part together ... Otherwise, it becomes recurring waves of infections that we have to deal with, and it will be very difficult for us to gradually, progressively, attain normalcy,” he said.

He was responding to a series of questions in Parliament from Cheng Li Hui (Tampines GRC) about the impact of the enhanced measures and the adequacy of Singapore’s stockpile of goods and essential items like protective equipment for healthcare workers.

Chan explained that the size of Singapore’s stockpile is determined by a range of factors such as the consumption rate, supply chain reliability, resupply rate and frequency, shelf life of the products and the cost of storage, the duration of possible disruptions and Singapore’s own production surge capacities.

He reiterated reassurances that the country has enough to meet its needs.

“For food, we have a strategy developed over many years that entails a combination of stockpiling, import diversification, and local production,” he said.

He added that Singapore is working with like-minded partners to ensure that trade continues to flow unimpeded, and that critical infrastructure such as the air and sea ports remain open to support supply chains globally.

Chan also highlighted a joint ministerial statement with Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Myanmar, New Zealand, Laos and Uruguay, affirming their collective commitment to ensuring supply chain connectivity to facilitate the flow of goods including essential supplies.

He also shared about last week’s Group of 20 Trade Ministers Meeting, where countries agreed to work together to maintain global production systems and trade links, and engendering long-term confidence in investors, businesses and consumers.

But on the adequacy of supplies as well, Chan stressed that Singaporeans had a part to play.

“Panic buying severely disrupts the usual consumption rate and our stockpile efforts. No amount of stockpile will ever be sufficient if individuals hoard,” he said. — The Straits Times/ANN

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