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Singapore tightens COVID-19 rules despite 80 per cent vaccination rate

Singapore: Singapore made work-from-home the default and tightened rules to allow a maximum of two people to meet in restaurants or other social settings, as it seeks to rein in mostly mild cases that could otherwise quadruple in two weeks and overburden hospitals.

Primary school students will have to shift to learning from home, while booster shots get extended beyond seniors to a younger age group, the government said on Friday.

Singapore has strengthened rules to curb a COVID-19 outbreak despite the fact most of its population is vaccinated.

Singapore has strengthened rules to curb a COVID-19 outbreak despite the fact most of its population is vaccinated.Credit:Bloomberg

The moves, which take effect from September 27 for about a month, appear to shift away from the country’s stated transition toward living with the virus. About 80 per cent of the Singapore’s population is fully vaccinated.

With health officials expecting daily cases to jump to around 6000 from about 1500 currently, the government wants to curb that increase and avoid a hard lockdown. This resolve may soon get severely tested even though four in five people are already vaccinated in Singapore.

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“This was a very difficult decision for us as we know that this would affect many businesses and people,” said Trade Minister Gan Kim Yong, one of co-chairs of virus taskforce.

“While doing so may not reduce the number of daily new infections immediately, it will allow us to slow down the speed of increase and avoid overtaxing our healthcare workers.”

Singapore, until now, has allowed up to five fully vaccinated patrons to dine together at restaurants and up to two at food centres and coffee shops regardless of vaccination status. Workplace restrictions were initially getting loosened with up to half of employees allowed to return to offices.

Even though the total number of patients in intensive care remains low at 23, the jump in mild infections has begun to stir anxiety in Singapore. Residents are airing grievances over not being able to reach the health ministry quickly to discuss their concerns and fretted over the long lag between testing positive for COVID-19 and getting sent to a recovery facility.

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