Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong wants to push on with the strategy of living with COVID-19 without being paralyzed by fear, weighing in on a divisive issue about the pace of opening up a trade-reliant economy with one of the highest vaccination rates in the world.

Lee said in a televised address that Singapore can’t stay "locked down and closed off indefinitely,” but at the same time there will be "quite many COVID-19 cases for some time to come.” He used the 24-minute speech on Saturday to call for unity for the next few months and address a split in wider society between keeping COVID-zero measures in place and reopening quickly in step with other advanced economies.

Singapore recently reimposed some social curbs in an attempt to clamp down on the rising number of daily infections that have neared 3,600 and threaten to overwhelm the health care system. Even though nearly 85% of the population is fully vaccinated, the country has struggled to return to a life of normalcy amid growing anxieties over a constantly changing plan to live with the virus.