COVID-19 Updates: No Nightclubs, Vaccines Safe for People with Chronic Illness

Pilot to reopen nightclubs and karaoke outlets delayed

The Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) and Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) have announced that the pilot programme to reopen nightclubs and karaoke outlets will be deferred until further notice, in view of the increase in the number of community cases recently.

“To prevent the risk of further community transmission and formation of clusters in high-risk settings such as nightclubs and karaoke outlets, which entail people coming into close contact for prolonged periods of time and in enclosed spaces, the pilots have been deferred until further notice,” the ministries said in a joint media release.

The pilot for nightclubs and karaoke outlets was slated to start this month. Authorities had chosen two nightclubs and 10 karaoke outlets to participate in the pilot, out of a total of eight nominations for nightclubs and 15 for karaoke outlets.

“We are working with the operators who were shortlisted for the pilot on the next steps for their businesses and assisting them individually,” said MHA and MTI.

The pilot programme was supposed to begin this month, where a limited number of establishments would have been allowed to reopen with safe management measures after being ordered to close before in March last year.

Vaccine safe for those with chronic illness; women advised to defer conception for a month after jabs

The Ministry of Health (MOH) has issued an advisory stating that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is safe for those with chronic illnesses, such as hypertension, high cholesterol, diabetes. However, women are advised to defer conception for a month after completing both jabs.

Advisories on the vaccine can be found on the MOH website, which states that individuals with chronic illnesses are recommended to receive the vaccine, ā€œfor personal protection as well as [to protect] their loved onesā€.

The announcement from MOH comes as concerns about the vaccine were raised after 33 people in Norway aged 75 and over died after receiving immunisation. The country has since given the assurance that there was no evidence of a direct link between the deaths and the vaccine, as those patients that died were already seriously ill.

For women who are planning to conceive, the recommendation from MOH to wait a month after receiving the vaccines comes about because currently there is ā€œnot enough evidenceā€ to advise on the use of the vaccines during pregnancy. ā€œIt is recommended that pregnant women defer vaccination until more data become available, or receive vaccination after delivery,ā€ the ministry said.

Should a woman become pregnant after receiving the first dose of the vaccine, MOH advises them to refrain from receiving the second dose. For lactating women, MOH recommended in an earlier advisory that they still get vaccinated but abstain from breastfeeding for five to seven days after receiving it.

More measures may be needed to tackle rising COVID-19 cases

In view of the increased number of community cases, Mr Lawrence Wong, co-chair of the multiministry task force has said that additional measures may have to be implemented to keep the virus under control.

Posting on Facebook, Mr Wong noted that Singapore has seen more new infections in recent days, including the first local cluster in months. His comments came as the number of new cases in the community rose to 10 in the past week, up from eight in the week before.

While contact tracers are in the midst of working to ring-fence potential cases and prevent the infection from spreading further, Mr Wong stated that the authorities are ā€œconsidering if additional measures are necessary to ensure the infection remains under controlā€.

Singapore plans for more than 30 new COVID-19 jab centres

Authorities have begun to ramp up the vaccination programme as plans to set up 36 new vaccination centres have been announced. MOH is currently looking to appoint a vendor to set up these centres from February onwards.

These centres should be able to cater to at least 2,000 people a day. There will also be 10 roving teams to provide mass vaccination for sites such as nursing homes. Vaccination sites could include vacant schools, community clubs, and sports halls. The assigned vaccination centres will operate for up to 12 months.

The mobile vaccination teams will comprise a medical doctor, four nurses and three administration staff, and will operate from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. The doctor must be prepared to respond to medical emergencies. The vaccination centres should operate from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily, and only the National Appointment System should be used for appointments and the updating of vaccination records.

Currently, the two vaccination centres at Changi Airport Terminal 4 and Raffles City Convention Centre are already operational while two more centres at the former Hong Kah Secondary School and Woodlands Galaxy Community Club are due to start operating this week.

MOH stated that more centres across the island are being planned and will be rolled out in tandem with the arrival of the vaccine shipments.

All Malaysian states except Sarawak to be placed under MCO starting Friday

Across the border, Malaysiaā€™s Senior Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob has announced that all states in Malaysia, with the exception of Sarawak, will be placed under movement control order (MCO) from this Friday.

The MCO will be enforced from 22 January to 4 February.

In a press conference, Mr Ismail Sabri said, ā€œThe MCO standard operating procedures are the same as I have announced before. That means residents are not allowed out, except for two from one household for daily necessities, including emergency cases.ā€

The health ministry reported 3,631 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday and 14 more fatalities. Nine additional clusters were also detected, including two involving family members. There are now more than 165,000 COVID-19 cases in Malaysia, with close to 40,000 active cases.


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