It would take a few months, but Singapore will eventually reopen safely like Italy, which has one of the highest vaccination rates in Europe at more than 72 per cent fully vaccinated, Lee said while speaking to the media at the end of the G20 Summit in Rome on Sunday.
The country, which had two strict lockdowns previously, has relaxed most of its COVID-19 rules, including the wearing of masks outdoors.
But Lee warned about potential “surprises”, pointing out that cases in Europe are rising, especially in Western Europe, and authorities there are monitoring the situation.
“It may happen to us too, but we take it one step at a time,” the Channel News Asia quoted Lee in a report from Rome.
“So far it has taken us a while, it has been very wearing on our people because each time we think we have arrived, something new turns up and you have to carry on a little bit longer,” said the Singapore Prime Minister.
“But we are making progress and I think we have confidence we will get there.” Lee also made a comparison of the COVID-19 situation between Singapore and Italy, whose population is 11 times bigger.
To date, Italy has recorded about 4.7 million cases and 132,000 deaths from COVID-19. Comparing this on the same scale in Singapore, Lee pointed out that it is about 11,000 to 12,000 deaths.
Separately, Singapore reported 3,163 new COVID-19 cases as of noon on Sunday, including 414 from dormitories for migrant workers, and 13 deaths from complications due to the virus.
The fatalities were aged between 57 and 89. All of them had various underlying medical conditions, except for two unvaccinated or partially vaccinated individuals who had no known medical conditions.
This brings Singapore’s death toll from the coronavirus to 407.
Four are imported cases, the Ministry of Health said in its daily update.
As of Saturday, Singapore has reported a total of 198,374 COVID-19 cases since the start of the pandemic.