Two large groups under probe for safe remote breaches

Two groups, each consisting of 20 people or more, are under investigation for alleged violations of the rules for safe distances in the nature reserves of Singapore.

One involved 26 hikers who had attempted to go off the trail illegally in the Central Catchment Nature Reserve, the largest on the island.

The other was a group of 20 gathered for a birthday party in the Labrador Nature Reserve in southwest Singapore.

More worryingly, these two groups are not the only ones being investigated for possible violations of Covid-19 security measures, nor are they the largest group.

The Ministry of Sustainability and the Environment (MSE) announced yesterday that a group of 50 people is also being examined. The new document understands that this is the largest group linked to a breach since safe distance measures were taken in March.

In response to questions from TNP, an MSE spokesperson said these incidents are part of a wave of recent cases where 12 to 50 people mingle in large groups at various parks, birthday celebrations, baby showers, food and beverage outlets and basketball and football games in Housing Board estate courts.

These cases are being investigated and appropriate enforcement action will be taken, she added.

The spokesperson noted the recent increase in such gatherings, adding, “It is important for all of us to remain vigilant and adhere to safe distance measures to avoid a resurgence of business, as we have in other countries. seen.

“We managed to keep the number of Covid-19 cases low because the majority played their part.

“With the holidays approaching and moving into phase three, it is even more important for us to stick to these measures so we can continue to protect our community.”

In the current phase two of the country’s reopening, social gatherings of up to five people are allowed with security measures such as wearing masks.

The government has indicated that the country could move to phase three by the end of the year.

But Education Secretary Lawrence Wong, who co-chairs Covid-19’s multi-ministerial task force, reiterated on Tuesday that three criteria must be met for this to happen.

Two of these are sufficient testing opportunities – in which Singapore “does well” – and a 70 percent participation in the TraceTogether program, compared to the current rate of less than 50 percent.

The third is a general sense of compliance with safe controls.

“We need to see Singaporeans take today’s measures seriously, because if people aren’t even responsible enough to keep (them) high, it will be very risky to go for further relaxation,” Wong stressed.

Separately, Sustainability and Environment Minister Grace Fu said on Facebook on Tuesday: “I am concerned about an increasing number of blatant violations of the rules. I urge you to continue to comply with measures to protect your family and friends from infection.”

Infectious disease experts warned that now was not the time for complacency, despite the decline in community cases.

With two-way green lanes between Singapore and countries like Malaysia and Japan and the impending bubble with Hong Kong, an unnoticed case of the virus could slip through, said Dr. Leong Hoe Nam, a specialist at Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital.

“Our defense of masks and social aloofness must stand. If not, we will see a new wave of community spreading,” he added.

“I would encourage everyone not to give up on the huge gains we have achieved.”

Another expert, Dr. Ling Li Min, who is also stationed at Mount Elizabeth Novena, said the recent surge in infractions suggests people may be suffering from Covid-19 measurements of fatigue.

However, she stressed the importance of remaining socially responsible, as studies have shown that congregating in large nearby groups results in an estimated number of secondary infections of up to 53 percent if anyone in the group has the virus.

“It has been challenging to get to where we are today with our low infection rates in the community, and we have seen from the experience of other countries how easy it is to form a new cluster of infections,” she added. .

“Let’s not be tempted to let our guard down now.”

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