Living with Covid-19: Singapore's new normal

SINGAPORE – Join The Straits Times’ science correspondent Audrey Tan and a panel of Singapore’s top experts in a discussion on how to live with Covid-19 as the nation prepares for the virus to become endemic here.

They will also touch on the latest science on the virus, especially with the rise of new variants.

The panel comprises:

– Dr Danny Soon, chief executive of the Consortium for Clinical Research and Innovation, Singapore (Cris). He is also a member of the Ministry of Health Expert Committee on Covid-19 Vaccination.

– Professor Lisa Ng, executive director of the Agency for Science, Technology and Research’s (A*Star) Infectious Diseases Labs.

– Professor Teo Yik Ying, dean of the Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health at the National University of Singapore (NUS).

They will discuss the implications of the announcements made on Monday (May 31) – plans were laid out for a new normal, where people can carry on with their lives while the virus is in their midst.

Addressing the nation, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong sketched out a scenario where people will be able to go to work and meet their friends, take part in large-scale events such as concerts, and eventually even go around without masks outdoors.

PM Lee outlined three key strategies in Singapore’s approach: fast, frequent and extensive Covid-19 testing, including the use of do-it-yourself kits that can soon be bought over the counter; faster and wider contact tracing to isolate close contacts more quickly; and an accelerated national vaccination programme that prioritises first-dose vaccinations.

Living with endemic Covid-19 also means the country does not completely close its borders, PM Lee stressed. Singapore has to stay connected to the world, with effective safeguards and border restrictions to keep the community safe.

“We will not be able to prevent some infected persons from slipping through from time to time. But as long as our population is mostly vaccinated, we should be able to trace, isolate and treat the cases that pop up, and prevent a severe and disastrous outbreak,” PM Lee said.

The discussion is a special episode of The Big Story, a news talk show broadcast every weekday at 5.30pm on Facebook and YouTube.

Topics covered in previous episodes include discussions on how workers were segregated into risk-based zones as Changi Airport tightened Covid-19 measures; PM Lee’s address to the nation on the extension of the circuit breaker; and Singapore’s $48 billion Resilience Budget to combat the impact of Covid-19.

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