Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Sunday called for resilience in the face of severe economic downturn on the 55th National Day.

When delivering his National Day message, Lee said Singaporeans are understandably anxious and worried as business closures, retrenchments and unemployment are all likely to go up in the coming months, Xinhua news agency reported.

“But this is not the first economic crisis we have experienced,” he said. “Each time the outlook was ominous, and we feared the worst, but each time we worked hard to secure our position, gritted our teeth, and came through together.”

The prime minister added that he is confident that Singaporeans will get through this current crisis, though it may take longer time.

He said unity and resilience are needed more than ever. Many countries that had brought COVID-19 under control and eased restrictions see their cases rise sharply again, and this can happen to Singapore too despite all the precautions, he added.

Lee forecast that it will most likely take a year or two before a vaccine is widely available, and the threat of the virus is blunted. “Until then, we have to maintain our vigilance and resolve, to keep ourselves, our loved ones and our neighbours all safe,” he said.