The Southeast Asian country has been relatively untouched by the pandemic, with just 31 deaths and 60,000 cases among its population of 5.8 million.
The health ministry announced 48 new cases this weekend – 28 Sunday and 20 Saturday, including 17 through community transmission. There are 31 imported cases.
The disease spread rapidly in the dormitories of migrant workers across the country last year, bringing industry and services to a standstill.
However, the economy contracted 5.4% in 2020 and gross domestic product is unlikely to return to pre-pandemic levels until the second half of this year at the earliest, according to government forecasts. .
“Sars was less contagious than Covid-19, but more deadly,” Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said.
Singapore was one of the first countries to be affected by Sars. “At first, no one knew what the new disease was, or how long the epidemic would last.”
Lee said the government “does not have a manual for dealing with such a crisis.”
He praised then-prime minister Goh Chok Tong, who, he said, “mounted a maximum national response to stem the spread.”
Goh organized temperature taking, contact tracing, contact quarantine and screening protocols at borders and in public spaces, as well as the mobilization of hospitals and school closures.
“All of them were part of the strategy to ‘detect, isolate and contain’,” Lee said.
Goh rallied the nation behind him, he added.
“He wrote a personal letter to every Singaporean, he explained the situation to Singaporeans calmly and clearly, what we need to do, individually and together. People understood what was at stake, took courage and played their part to win the fight.
Lee spoke at the Goh biography launch, Stand up straight, by Peh Shing Huei, editor of the Straits Times.
When Covid-19 hit Singapore 17 years later, “we were better prepared,” he said.
“We have adapted the measures that have worked for us at Sars, but Covid-19 is a new and different disease and demanded of us new thinking and answers.