Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, the Asian city-state of Singapore has stood out as one of the countries that has best managed the health crisis. Now, it seems they are the first to understand what lies ahead. Singapore has declared that Covid will now be treated like other endemic diseases such as influenza.

The Singaporean government is no longer aiming for zero transmission. Quarantine for travelers will be scrapped and close contacts of cases will not need to be isolated. It also plans to stop announcing daily case numbers.

Singapore’s top ministers have said this is the “new normal” of “living with Covid.” “The bad news is that Covid-19 may never go away. The good news is that it is possible to live normally with it among us,” wrote Trade Minister Gan Kim Yong, Finance Minister Lawrence Wong and Health Minister Ong Ye Kung in a Straits Times editorial this week.

“(This) means that the virus will continue to mutate and therefore survive in our community,” the ministers said in the statement.

“Every year, many people contract the flu. The vast majority recover without hospitalization and with little or no medication. But a minority, especially the elderly and people with comorbidities, can become seriously ill and some succumb,” the government said.

“We can’t eradicate it (the coronavirus), but we can turn the pandemic into something much less threatening, like flu or chicken pox, and get on with our lives,” the trio of ministers said.

Of course, vaccination is key. The roadmap out of the current measures could not begin until more people have been vaccinated. Singapore is expected to have given two-thirds of its residents at least one dose in a few weeks and two-thirds to be fully vaccinated by early August.

Singapore has detected that some fully vaccinated citizens have contracted Covid-19, but none have had serious symptoms. Ministers say this trend is likely to continue and that booster shots will be needed.

Singapore authorities also argue that testing should be made easier and faster. Home tests should replace the current PCRs. “Eventually, airport, seaport, office buildings, shopping malls, hospitals and educational institutions can use these kits to test staff and visitors,” they say.

Thus, people with Covid would recover at home because symptoms will mostly be mild and close contacts would be vaccinated. Because most cases will be a minor problem, the need for contact tracing and quarantine will be low.

“Instead of monitoring Covid-19 infection numbers every day, we will focus on outcomes: how many become critically ill, how many are in the intensive care unit, how many need to be intubated to get oxygen…. This is how we now monitor the flu,” they explained.

According to these ministers, this would be the way for Singapore to exit Covid-19, resume major events and travel internationally.

The Singapore ministers said that the country is by no means already at a stage where the post-Covid plan can begin. For the time being, the current restrictions should be maintained.

But they do envisage “a roadmap for moving to a new normal. History has shown that each pandemic will run its course,” they concluded.

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