Chairman, Excellencies and Colleagues,
Good Afternoon to all of you.
1. First, I would like to thank the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for convening this very important meeting.
2. The COVID-19 pandemic is an unprecedented crisis of a very complex nature.
3. Many countries, including Singapore, have taken swift and decisive measures to contain the outbreak.
4. In Singapore, we have mobilised the whole nation in our fight against COVID-19. We have set up a Multi-Ministry Taskforce (MTF) to coordinate our efforts on COVID-19, with ministerial representation from the various sectors.
5. The strategy is to slow down the infection as much as possible and to preserve our healthcare capacity. We conducted enhanced surveillance and testing, tightened our border controls and mobilised the whole population to work with the government to practice safe distancing and a high level of personal hygiene.
6. In recent weeks, we have seen a spike in the number of cases, with the majority of new cases involving foreign workers from dormitories. We have formed a special Inter-Agency Taskforce, with our Senior Minister as advisor, to contain the spread and protect our foreign workers. Workers are being tested extensively. We have set up medical facilities in the dormitories to provide them with medical care and are paying close attention to their needs and well-being. Our foreign workers played an important part in building Singapore and we will do our best to take care of them.
7. The pandemic has triggered many nations to shut their borders, limit exports and halt economic activities; causing severe disruptions and creating uncertainties.
8. The COVID-19 pandemic is likely to take some time to be resolved, maybe till end of the year and beyond. But the impact on our economy and our society will last much longer. Singapore introduced a package of fiscal measures totalling S$60 billion (~US$42 billion, or ~12% of our GDP) to cushion the impact. These measures will help support workers and protect livelihoods, help enterprises overcome immediate challenges and strengthen economic and social resilience so that we can emerge stronger.
9. Our societies have to adjust and adapt to the new normal. As leaders, we need to strengthen solidarity and forge a resilient society, to help the vulnerable among us, so that no one is left behind.
10. Our healthcare and front-line workers have been working around the clock to care for our patients. I would like to thank them for their dedication and commitment. We are also heartened to see the whole nation united under the SGUnited initiative, where individuals and organisations are volunteering, donating, supporting our efforts and helping the needy among us.
11. No country can fight the virus alone. Therefore, countries should share experience and expertise, embrace stronger international cooperation, particularly in research and vaccine development. The virus will not be truly contained anywhere unless it is effectively contained everywhere.
12. The actions we collectively take today can and will determine the course of the disease globally. Now is the time for unity, for the international community to work together in solidarity to stop this virus.
13. Beyond COVID-19, we must also collaborate globally and share ideas on many important health issues and challenges to deliver better health for our people.
14. Singapore is grateful to be part of this important discussion and look forward to working closely with the G20, WHO and the wider international community in these areas.