01 February 2023

Covid-19: Should Singapore lift mask-wearing rule on public transport, healthcare venues? Experts think so

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SINGAPORE — As the Covid-19 situation in Singapore and around the world has stabilised, infectious disease experts here are saying that now is a good time to do away with the public health safety rules of wearing a mask on public transport and in healthcare settings.

Singapore has kept the spread of Covid-19 under control to the point that the disease kills fewer people than influenza, experts who spoke to TODAY said.

They added that with people mingling freely in public, the remaining rules on mask-wearing have become “redundant”.

In his new year message recently, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said that the Government was watching the Covid-19 situation very closely and may lift the remaining restrictions if the situation remained stable.

Last Friday (Jan 27), Minister for Health Ong Ye Kung said that cases typically spike over long weekends, but the number of Covid-19 cases over the Chinese New Year holidays was low, indicating that the situation has stabilised.

The same can be said for other countries around the world.

The White House in the United States said on Monday that the country's Covid-19 emergency declarations will end officially on May 11.

Earlier this month, Dr Liang Wannian, China’s head of Covid-19 response panel under the country’s National Health Commission, said that the Covid-19 surge there has declined, and that the country has “weathered the worst” of the wave.

China announced last month that it would ease border and travel restrictions and this was followed by a huge Covid-19 wave.

On Monday, it said that the Covid-19 situation in the country was at a "low level", and that visits to fever clinics due to the coronavirus during Chinese New Year dropped about 40 per cent from before the week-long holiday there.

Mr Wang Quanyi, deputy director of Beijing's Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, told media there on Tuesday that the city of 22 million had "established temporary herd immunity protection".

WHAT EXPERTS SAY OF SINGAPORE’S COVID-19 SITUATION

Associate Professor Alex Cook, vice-dean of research from the National University of Singapore’s Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health, said that in Singapore, the risk of death for Covid-19 has lowered.

Dr Paul Tambyah, president of the Asia Pacific Society of Clinical Microbiology and Infection, noting that the Covid-19 situation has been under control here, said that the remaining restrictions can be lifted.

Agreeing, Dr Leong Hoe Nam from Rophi Clinic and Mount Elizabeth Novena Specialist Centre, said that this is due to good vaccination take-up rates in Singapore, reasonable herd immunity because of hybrid immunity, and the widespread availability of anti-virus medications.

The World Health Organization (WHO) states that hybrid immunity refers to the immune protection in individuals who have had one or more doses of a Covid-19 vaccine and experienced at least one infection by the Sars-Cov-2 coronavirus before or after the vaccination.

Sars-CoV-2 is the virus that causes Covid-19. Herd immunity happens when a population is immune either through vaccination or has developed immunity through past infections.

Source: https://www.todayonline.com/singapore/covid-19-singapore-mask-wearing-rule-public-transport-healthcare-2100136

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