Singapore on Friday sought to temper expectations that it would be easing its partial lockdown soon, with its health minister saying that the city state was “not out of the woods”. The comments came a day after Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said in a speech that he was considering a phased reopening of the economy, and as the island’s neighbours, including Malaysia and Vietnam , loosened movement restrictions. Health Minister Gan Kim Yong on Friday said it was not just a “single number” that would be considered when deciding whether to lift its partial lockdown, but multiple factors. Coronavirus: why Singapore fears a ‘hidden reservoir’ of Covid-19 cases “We have to look at the nature of the cases, whether the low number of cases is sustainable and the nature of the transmission, whether we have confidence that the transmission is under control,” he told reporters at a virtual press briefing. “I think it is important for us to remind ourselves, even though we are seeing the number of community cases coming down, we are not out of the woods yet,” he said. The basic posture has to be that we are in for a long fight. There will be recurring waves of infections that we have to deal with Lawrence Wong, national development minister Singapore recorded a dramatic explosion of cases within the past month, taking its tally of infections to more than 17,000. Some 86 per cent of its infections are low-wage migrant workers living in cramped dormitories, while cases among Singapore citizens and permanent residents have largely stabilised at a daily average of seven cases. Gan said Singapore would need to move to a more “holistic risk assessment”, stressing that the country needed to focus “quite sharply” on efforts to keep community cases low before it could consider easing restrictions. The city state had on April 7 imposed a partial lockdown that saw most businesses and schools shut. It was initially slated to expire on May 5, but was extended by four weeks to June 1 amid a sharp spike in coronavirus infections among its low-wage migrant workers . National development minister Lawrence Wong, who co-heads a multi-ministerial task force that deals with the virus, said the country would work towards a gradual relaxation of the measures and a resumption of activities “at some point”. But even if Singapore were to gradually ease restrictions, Wong said things would not go back to “old practices [or] business as usual”, with the guidelines – including safe-distancing measures, the wearing of masks, and staggered work hours to prevent congregation – likely to continue even after the circuit breaker ended. “These are very important guidelines, and we will want to ensure that these guidelines are upheld, and then expanded upon, even as we open up and allow more workers to continue to work,” Wong said. Singapore prepares to resume cross-border travel with four countries The authorities were also discussing a series of new protocols as Singapore approached the end of its partial lockdown, Wong said. Some of these included how to ensure testing could be carried out more regularly, and having “technology enablers” to allow better tracking and monitoring at workplaces if a confirmed case emerged. Gan, the health minister, said a “comprehensive plan” on how to resume activities would be needed, adding that different workplaces would require different sets of rules. “It is not a one-size-fits-all measure that we are going to put in place. I think it will depend on the risk assessment of each sector,” he said. “We need to do it in a progressive way, in a calibrated way.” Meanwhile, Minister for Manpower Josephine Teo said the government would allocate more resources to handle the situation in the migrant worker dormitories, citing how almost 3,000 staff members across different ministries had been mobilised. Teo said the ministry was now in the third phase of its approach, which would involve housing recovered workers in suitable accommodation and minimising the risks of recurring transmission. The first phase involved implementing safe-distancing measures for the migrant workers, and ensuring they received food supplies on time and could remit money home. The second was the ramping up of medical infrastructure at dormitories. Singapore PM: ‘jobs will disappear’ as Covid-19 hastens digital disruption Still, officials stressed that the battle against the coronavirus would be a long one, even as studies suggested that Singapore’s infections could die down by June. Wong warned that it would be “premature” for any country to assume that the world would be safe from the Covid-19 disease even if the current wave of infections ended in June or July. “The basic posture has to be that we are in for a long fight. There will be recurring waves of infections that we have to deal with,” he said, pointing to how it would only take “one cryptic case” to form new clusters. “So let’s not be too early to declare the end of the infection anywhere in Singapore, anywhere in the world.” Help us understand what you are interested in so that we can improve SCMP and provide a better experience for you. 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