Lest you’re not aware, Singapore reported 235 locally transmitted cases today, with 110 of them unlinked. Over the last few days, three-digit unlinked daily cases have been common, and while the multi-ministry task force said that there won’t be any new restrictions, MOH is issuing some advisory to stop the spread of the virus.
In an update today, MOH said that they’ve uncovered several large clusters such as at bus interchanges, BHG Bugis Junction and Changi General Hospital, and many of the cases and clusters arose because of higher levels of interactions between people, either in social settings or workplaces.
The number of new infection cases in the community has almost doubled to more than 1,200 cases in the week ending 5 September 2021, up from around 600 cases in the week before.
According to MOH, if the infection continues at this trajectory, we will see a doubling of cases every week. This means that we can expect to see more individuals suffer serious consequences due to COVID-19 infection.
And this is why they’re making this announcement.
More People Expected to Receive Health Risk Warnings (HRW) and Health Risk Alerts (HRA)
Now, once a cluster of cases is identified, in addition to the quarantine of close contacts, MOH will send out Health Risk Warnings (HRW) and Health Risk Alerts (HRA) to individuals to cast a wide net around the cases, and to contain the clusters quickly.
With more cases circulating in the community, there will also be more people being issued such HRWs or HRAs.
HRW and HRA are not quarantine orders. However, individuals who receive a HRW will be required by law to get a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test and self-isolate until they receive a negative result from their first test.
They will also be required to do ART tests thereafter, and a PCR test on the 14th day. Individuals who receive a HRA are not subject to actions required by the law but are strongly encouraged to go for a PCR test as soon as possible.
For both HRW and HRA, individuals should reduce their social interactions for 14 days.
Social Gatherings in Workplace Banned from 8 Sept & People Now Encouraged to Stay Home
The recent clusters in workplace settings have taken place because of lax Safe Management Measures, especially in areas like staff canteens and pantries where people tend to let their guard down and interact amongst themselves without their masks on. Hence, social gatherings and interactions at workplaces will not be allowed from 8 September 2021.
In addition, tougher action will be taken if there are positive cases amongst workers who are infected. In particular, employers will be required to put in place a maximum Work-From-Home (WFH) requirement over a 14 day period (now, up to 50% of employees can work in their workplace), should one or more of their workers be found to have contracted COVID-19 and have returned to their workplace. This means that everyone in the company who can WFH will be required to do so.
Those who are working from home should minimise social gatherings and leave their homes only for essential activities during this 14-day period. More details will be released by MOM.
The health ministry also strongly encourages all individuals, especially the vulnerable elderly or persons staying with elderly, to reduce their non-essential social activities for the next two weeks.
We should continue to limit our social circle to a small group of regular contacts and limit ourselves to one social gathering a day, whether to another household or in a public place.
In a doorstop interview, Finance Minister and Co-Chair of the Multi-Ministry Task Force, Lawrence Wong, said, “We’re trying to ask people, please hold back, particularly during this period where there are so many cases and where the virus is spreading so quickly. Just scale back, cut back your social interactions, if possible.”
In other words, the often-heard advisory of “stay home” is back.
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