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UPDATE 1-Singapore accelerating COVID-19 vaccinations, aims to ease curbs

·1-min read

(Recasts, adds details, quotes, Novovax vaccines)

SINGAPORE, June 24 (Reuters) - Singapore said on Thursday it expects to almost double the number of doses of coronavirus vaccines it administers each day to 80,000 from this weekend and might later ease restrictions on gatherings and travel for those inoculated.

Around 3 million people, or just over 50% of Singapore's population, have received the first dose of a vaccine. About 2 million of those have received the second dose also.

The health ministry said it hopes that by Aug. 9, two thirds of people eligible for vaccines will have received two doses and authorities plan to ease restrictions further when more are vaccinated.

"We could allow gatherings, involving just vaccinated persons to have larger group sizes, and also relax the social distancing rules in such settings," Lawrence Wong, co-chair of Singapore's coronavirus taskforce told a media briefing.

"Potentially we are working on some new guidelines for people in Singapore to be able to travel abroad."

Depending on the virus situation in destination countries, the quarantine may be reduced upon return, or waived in place of COVID-19 tests on arrival.

Singapore is drawing up a plan on returning to normalcy on expectation the virus will become endemic like influenza and as vaccination rates pick up, said ministers leading the task force.

Authorities said they will allow more migrant workers and migrant domestic workers to enter Singapore.

Meanwhile, Health Minister Ong Ye Kung said Singapore is working closely with Novavax Inc and awaiting its application for regulatory approval and they hope to receive its vaccine by the end of the year.

Singapore's government currently uses Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, with Sinovac vaccines available privately. (Reporting by Chen Lin; Editing by Martin Petty)

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