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Further Precautionary Measures To Protect Our Vulnerable Elderly From COVID-19 Surge

       Over the past weekend, the Ministry of Health (MOH) has uncovered clusters in wet markets and hawker food centres, likely seeded by fishmongers and stallholders who visited the Jurong Fishery Port to collect their stock and sell at these markets and food centres.  We have found clusters at two markets – Hong Lim Market & Food Centre and Chong Boon Market & Food Centre – as well as cases at Amoy Street Food Centre and Chong Pang Market & Food Centre. In addition, persons at Whampoa Wet Market, Telok Blangah Crescent Block 11, Taman Jurong Market, Redhill Market, Geylang Serai Malay Market, Geylang Bahru Market, 527 Ang Mo Kio Market, 726 West Coast Wet Market and Bukit Timah Wet Market have tested positive via Antigen Rapid Tests (ART). All of them have since been confirmed to be positive for COVID-19 infection with polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing.

2.     In today’s testing, we have uncovered more cases, linked to the above markets as well as other markets. Further details will be announced in the regular MOH media release later.

3.     While we have conducted aggressive public health actions to detect such cases, we are concerned that there remain cryptic transmission chains which might continue to spread within our community. The porous nature of wet markets makes contact tracing and isolation less straightforward. We are particularly concerned that these wet markets serve a range of customers, including the vulnerable elderly, some of whom remain unvaccinated. They might be infected, and could suffer severe symptoms.

4.     The Multi-Ministry Taskforce is taking quick action to contain and manage these clusters, including contact tracing, quarantining of close contacts, and an aggressive testing strategy.  Group sizes will be limited to 2 persons for hawker centres, food courts, and coffeeshops as a default from 19 July 2021.  We will also tighten up measures to better manage access to the affected wet markets from 19 July 2021 onwards. 

5.     NEA and the Town Councils will be progressively implementing access control with interim fencing and mandatory SafeEntry check-in at markets where COVID-19 cases have been detected amongst stallholders or stall assistants.  This includes the seven markets1 where MOH has recently detected COVID-19 cases amongst stallholders and stall assistants. The added access control will better enable contact tracing to ringfence cases.

6.     There are already another 13 popular markets2 with access control in place since the start of the Circuit Breaker where patrons are not allowed to enter once the number of patrons in each market reaches the stipulated allowable capacity. This is to avoid over-crowding and ensure that effective safe distancing and enforcement can be carried out to ensure everyone’s safety. Eleven of the 13 markets also have mandatory SafeEntry check-in implemented, which will be rolled out progressively to the rest of the markets with access control.

7.     As announced by MTF on 15 July 2021, we will be implementing vaccination-differentiated safe management measures in higher-risk indoor mask-off activities such as F&B dine-in and gyms/fitness studios. The default group size will be reduced from 5 persons to 2 persons. However, we will allow individuals to continue in groups of up to 5 persons in these settings provided they are (i) fully vaccinated, or (ii) recovered or (iii) have a valid negative pre-event test result for the duration of their activity. Children aged 12 years and below who are not eligible for the vaccines will also receive this concession. These measures will proceed as originally planned, from 19 July through to 8 August 2021. 

8.     However, given the heightened concerns over the potential for community spread, we strongly advise unvaccinated individuals, especially the elderly, to stay home as much as possible over the next few weeks. We urge members of the public to reach out to your elderly relatives or neighbours who remain unvaccinated to see what assistance they may require, e.g. to buy daily necessities. With the upcoming public holiday on 20 July, individuals should continue to limit their overall number of social gatherings to not more than 2 per day, whether it is to another household, or to meet with friends and family members in a public place.

9.     Even those who are vaccinated but have unvaccinated elderly at home, should avoid crowded places or extensive social interactions. Vaccinated persons may still get infected with the virus, although most will typically experience mild or no symptoms. They may then inadvertently bring the virus home to seniors.

10.     We continue to urge everyone who is eligible – in particular our seniors, who are most at risk of developing serious symptoms – to get vaccinated as soon as possible. Seniors can walk in to any vaccine centre for their vaccinations. They can also book an appointment through the website. We also urge partially vaccinated individuals to bring forward their second dose appointments so they can be fully protected earlier. We remind all to observe prevailing safe management measures – see a doctor if unwell, and get tested as early as possible if they feel ill, even if they have been vaccinated.

11.     We have made significant progress in reopening and vaccinating the Singapore population since the start of this year and we must not lose our momentum. Any further steps towards reopening will only be possible if everyone stays vigilant, gets vaccinated, and continues to adhere to the safe management measures.

18 JULY 2021

[1] Block 69 Geylang Bahru market; Block 79 Redhill Lane market; Block 11 Telok Blangah market; Block 92 Whampoa Drive market; Bukit Timah Market; Taman Jurong Market and Block 726 Clementi West St 2 market.

[2] Block 105 Hougang Avenue 1 market; Block 209 Hougang Street 21 market; Block 335 Smith Street market; Block 341 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 1 market; Block 409 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 10 market; Block 453A Ang Mo Kio Avenue 10 market; Block 527 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 10 market; Block 665 Buffalo Road market; Block 254 Jurong East Street 24 market; Geylang Serai Market; Block 104/105 Yishun Ring Road (Chong Pang Market); Block 20/21 Marsiling Lane market; Block 505 Jurong West Street 52 market

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