Singapore will be extending current Covid-19 restrictions to November, as the country continues to see a rise in community cases. The Ministry of Health (MOH) says the extension is to give more time to stabilise the situation.
In their press release shared on Wednesday (20 October), the ministry announced updates on maintaining safe management measures.
Here is all you need to know about the extension of Covid restrictions in Singapore.
Restrictions Extended As Singapore Sees Rise In Covid Cases
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The Stabilisation Phase in Singapore started on September 27, to slow down the rate of transmission and record of Covid cases. It was originally scheduled to last only until October 24 before it was extended till November 21.
While the stabilisation measures have helped to moderate transmission, more time is needed for the situation to stabilise. Especially with the continuing pressures on our healthcare system.
MOH says they will be reviewing the measures at the two-week mark and will adjust these based on the situation at the time.
In Singapore, the number of new Covid community cases has been hitting 3,000 a day with a total of 3,994 detected as of Tuesday (19 October) according to MOH.
“Our medical personnel are stretched and fatigued. While we are trying to reinforce the team, it will take time for these reinforcements to come in. At the current situation, we face considerable risk of the healthcare system being overwhelmed,” Finance Minister Lawrence Wong told reporters during a virtual press conference.
Mr Wong also clarified that this does not necessarily mean that the measures will remain “frozen or static” throughout the whole month.
They will review the situation in the coming weeks “to see if there is any scope for calibrated easing and in instances where the risks are acceptable.”
Situation In Hospitals Given The Rise Of Singapore Covid Cases
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According to MOH, the number of unvaccinated seniors infected with Covid-19 has also risen to about 100 a day. Due to this, there has been an increase of infected people being admitted because of more severe symptoms or co-morbidities. The ministry says this is about 10 per cent of Covid-19 patients.
Out of the 495 Singapore Covid cases with severe illness in the past few days, 54.7 per cent were unvaccinated. Meanwhile, the rest of these cases were vaccinated but had co-morbidities.
In public hospitals, there are about 1,650 isolation beds and 200 ICU beds for Covid-19 patients. With this, it was found that about 89 per cent of isolation beds and 67 per cent of ICU beds have already been filled. This includes beds for non-Covid patients.
Health Minister Ong Ye Kung also spoke at the conference and said queues have formed for beds for both Covid and non-Covid patients at certain hospitals. MOH is doing whatever it can to “support and bolster” these hospitals.
The minister added if necessary, more ICU beds will be opened up. However, he said this will be “at the expense of further degradation of normal service and normal medical care”.
To help alleviate the pressure on public hospital capacity and manpower, non-urgent and non-life-threatening care treatments have also been reduced.
“Our hospitals and healthcare workers will need the help from the rest of Singapore to keep caseload steady, not overwhelm the system, so that we can continue to do our best to give proper medical care to all patients COVID and non-COVID,” said Mr Ong as per CNA.
Three “Positives” Highlighted In Singapore’s Transition To Living With Covid-19
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In the same conference, Mr Ong also highlighted three positives in the progress regarding Singapore’s transition to living with the virus which is of the following:
1. The number of cases stabilising over the last two weeks
With about 3,500 local community cases recorded on Tuesday, Mr Ong said this showed the usual “post-weekend spike.” While the latest figures for Wednesday are being finalised, he said that they “appear to have moderated at slightly above 3,000” cases.
Mr Ong added, “So we have to monitor the trend over the next few days to understand where is the trajectory … of the transmission. The important thing is, it is no longer doubling every few days like what we have seen in late September and early October.”
2. Higher percentage of infected people have no or mild symptoms
Mr Ong also said that the top-line infection numbers are less important as what is critical now is “how the top line translates into the bottom line of how many patients fall seriously ill and need hospital or ICU care or die.”
Authorities have found that a higher percentage of infected people in Singapore have either no symptoms or only mild symptoms. From about 98 per cent, the percentage has risen progressively over the last 28 days to 98.6 per cent.
The remaining 1.1 per cent require oxygen supplementation and 0.1 per cent need intensive care.
3. Decreasing number of infections among vaccinated seniors
“At its peak which is early October, we get 1,000 vaccinated seniors being infected in a day. Yesterday, this has fallen to 279,” said Mr Ong.
This was attributed to several factors including seniors cutting back on social activities and receiving Covid-19 booster shots.
While Mr Ong gave three positives, there were also three “negatives” that needed to be addressed. This included:
- No sign of Singapore Covid cases falling
- Hospitals continuing to be under pressure
- Infections among unvaccinated seniors remain to be high
With this, Mr Ong said, “As more people get boosted, as individuals who are vaccinated catch the virus and experience only mild flu-like symptoms, the antibodies and the immunity in our society will build up over time. And when that happens, you will see cases falling, and then we can open up social-economic activities without cases rising very rapidly.”
“And then we will have achieved a new equilibrium with the virus and that is what we are working towards,” he added.
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