Phase two post-circuit breaker could happen before end of June

PHASE two of Singapore's three-phased approach to resume activities safely, post-circuit breaker, could happen before the end of June, said the Multi-Ministry Taskforce on the novel coronavirus on Thursday. 

Singapore will  embark on Phase One of re-opening on Monday, during which more than three quarters of the economy will be expected to resume operations. 

The taskforce said it will monitor the effects of increased activity in this phase, and if community infection rates remain low and stable over the subsequent two weeks, they can decide by the middle of June to proceed with Phase Two. 

Most business activities will be allowed to resume operations in Phase Two, subject to safe-management measures, group size and capacity limits. 

These businesses include retail, food and beverage dine-in, personal health and wellness, as well as home-based services. Sports and other public facilities (such as stadiums and swimming pools) will also be opened. 

Further details on sector-specific safe-management measures will be provided closer to the start of Phase Two. 

Meanwhile, a more cautious approach will be adopted for higher-risk activities, which typically involve large numbers of people interacting with one another, often in enclosed spaces, and over prolonged periods of time. 

These include religious services and congregations; cultural venues such as art galleries, libraries and museums; large-scale events and venues; and entertainment venues such as bars, nightclubs, karaoke outlets, cinemas and theatres. 

Under Phase Two, masks will remain compulsory while outdoors. Small-group social gatherings of up to five persons will be allowed. Within the home, households may receive up to five visitors a day.  

Separately, the taskforce said that with immediate effect, Covid-19 patients who are assessed to be clinically well by Day 21 of the onset of illness can be discharged without the need for further polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests. 

These patients will then be given leave to remain at home (or place of residence like dormitories) for a further seven days to rest and recover. After Day 28, these recovered individuals can return to work.

These revised discharge criteria will not be applied to patients who have a history of being immuno-compromised. Such patients will still require two negative PCR tests before discharge, as they may still continue to shed viable virus for a prolonged period because of their impaired immunity.

The taskforce noted that the World Health Organisation has also recommended time-based discharge criteria; specifically, WHO recommends that patients who are clinically well can now be discharged after 10 days from the onset of illness, plus at least three days without respiratory symptoms or fever. 

Internationally, various countries that adopt or recommend a time-based discharge policy include South Korea, the United Kingdom, the United States, Estonia and Ireland. These countries have typically discharged patients after a range of seven to 14 days from onset of symptoms.

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