Singapore PM says COVID-19 ‘new normal’ could take up to 6 months – Reuters

People eat at a hawker centre during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Singapore September 21, 2021. REUTERS/Edgar Su

SINGAPORE, Oct 9 (Reuters) – Singapore may need as much as six months to get to a “new normal” in terms of easing restrictions and people resuming their previous routines in the COVID-19 pandemic, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said on Saturday.

“It will take us at least three months, and perhaps as long as six months, to get there,” Lee said in an address to the island nation, which has largely kept the virus at bay since last year with masks, contact tracing and a closed border.

The Southeast Asia city-state with a population of 5.45 million has been reporting more than 3,000 daily COVID-19 infections over the past few days, though almost all of them are asymptomatic or mild. About 83% of the population is fully vaccinated.

“After this surge stabilises, we may still see future surges, especially if new variants emerge. We may have to tap on the brakes again if cases again grow too fast, to protect our healthcare system and healthcare workers,” Lee said.

Singapore recently reimposed coronavirus restrictions to buy time to prepare to live with the disease. The step has been met with some rare frustration as the government walks a fine line between reopening and preventing hospitals from getting overwhelmed.

Reporting by Aradhana Aravindan and Anshuman Daga in Singapore; Editing by William Mallard

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