SINGAPORE: TraceTogether-only SafeEntry will be phased out in all wet markets and hawker centers in Singapore over the coming weeks.
This means that anyone entering wet markets and hawker centers must check in with their TraceTogether app or token using the SafeEntry Gateway, or by scanning SafeEntry QR codes with their TraceTogether app, the Department of Health (MOH ) announced on Tuesday (July 20). .
Authorities said wet markets and hawker centers are frequented by community members. They are also the place where many seniors gather.
“The potential for transmission is high given the proximity between individuals or mask-off activities, as evidenced by the recent clusters detected in these settings,” MOH said in a press release, adding that there is a need for faster contact tracing. with limit potential transmission at these settings.
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On July 18, it was announced that the National Environment Agency and city councils will gradually introduce access controls with intermediate gates and mandatory SafeEntry check-in in markets where COVID-19 cases have been detected among stallholders or stallholders.
The latest announcement applies to all other wet markets and hawker centers in Singapore, as part of a series of tougher curbs that MOH described as a return to Phase 2 (raised alarm).
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“We encourage all members of the public to comply with SafeEntry check-in requirements and to carry their TraceTogether token or keep their TraceTogether app active to facilitate contact tracing and help protect themselves and their loved ones MOH said.
Tuesday’s announcement comes on the back of a growing number of COVID-19 cases linked to wet markets and food centers, which were “probably seeded” by fishmongers who visited Jurong Fishery Port to pick up their stock for sale in markets and food centers.
The Jurong Fishery Port cluster, first reported last Friday, had 321 cases on Tuesday evening, making it Singapore’s largest active cluster. The KTV cluster has 207 cases.
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The two clusters are linked, Health Minister Ong Ye Kung said Monday. He added at a press conference on Tuesday that the Jurong Fishery Port cluster may have preceded the KTV cluster.
Co-chair of the COVID-19 multi-ministry task force Gan Kim Yong said the cluster linked to Jurong Fishery Port is spreading to a “wider segment” of the population, including the elderly who are most at risk if they have the virus.
It has also spread to several markets in the community frequented by seniors, Mr Gan said at the task force’s press conference.
About 81 seniors aged 60 and older have been infected in the past seven days. Among them, 12 were unvaccinated, he added.
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“This is of great concern to us as nearly 30 percent of the elderly population over the age of 70 has not been vaccinated. Overall, nearly 50 percent of our residents are still not fully vaccinated and therefore not fully protected,” said Mr Gan, who is also Minister of Trade and Industry.
“Given the rate of infections and the rate at which new clusters are growing, we will need to temporarily slow the spread of the virus to give us time to increase the coverage of our vaccination program, especially among the elderly population to protect them from the infection .”
When asked whether a blanket closure of all wet markets is an option being considered and whether that could be extended to others, such as supermarkets, Treasury Secretary Lawrence Wong said the challenge in closing markets is the risk that people “may come together and crowd into another market”.
“And if there is a cryptic transmission or (a) cryptic case in this other market, then the crowds of people in that particular market can spawn yet another large cluster,” he added.
“Then you say good if that’s the case, why not close all markets? But if we were to close all markets, where would people come again? They can crowd into supermarkets and will cryptic transmission take place there too?”
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Mr Wong, who is also co-chair of the COVID-19 task force, added: “So this has always been a challenge we’ve had with food stores, especially markets and supermarkets, because we’re worried that people there (maybe think ) will be short and therefore ‘I have to go buy’.”
As a result, the authorities have decided to gradually introduce SafeEntry check-ins in all markets, as well as testing for “all market stall holders to ensure they are COVID-free”.
The authorities also remind the public that “it is not necessary to go outside to buy groceries and food”.
“In fact in phase 2 (raised alarm) it’s best that you stay at home, minimize your movement and activity level, scale back as much as possible. And if we all do that then I think we can keep things under control, ‘ said Mr. Wong.
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