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Another COVID-19 wave in Singapore, masks advised after 25,900 cases recorded in six days

Singapore's health minister Ong Ye Kung said that over 25,900 cases were recorded between May 5 and May 11, more than 13,700 detected the previous week. He advised people to start wearing masks again and those at greater risk of disease to get vaccinated.

Edited By: Aveek Banerjee @AveekABanerjee Singapore Published on: May 18, 2024 16:25 IST
COVID-19
Image Source : PIXABAY Representative Image

Singapore: Singapore is witnessing the resurgence of another COVID-19 wave as authorities detected over 25,900 fresh coronavirus cases from May 5 to May 11, prompting Health Minister Ong Ye Kung to advise citizens to start wearing masks again. "We are at the beginning part of the wave where it is steadily rising,” said Ong, adding that it would peak in the next two to four weeks.

The Ministry of Health (MOH) said the estimated number of COVID-19 cases in the week of May 5 to 11 rose to 25,900 cases, compared with 13,700 cases in the previous week. Additionally, the average daily COVID-19 hospitalisations rose to about 250 from 181 the week before, even as average daily intensive care unit (ICU) cases remained low at three cases, according to the Straits Times.

Ong advised those who are at greatest risk of severe disease, including individuals aged 60 years and above, medically vulnerable individuals and residents of aged care facilities, to receive an additional dose of the COVID-19 vaccine if they have not done so in the last 12 months. 

Hospitals asked to reduce non-urgent cases

Meanwhile, public hospitals have been asked to reduce their non-urgent elective surgery cases and move suitable patients to transitional care facilities or back home through Mobile Inpatient Care@Home, an alternative inpatient care delivery model that offers clinically suitable patients the option of being hospitalised in their own homes instead of a hospital ward, in order to protect hospital bed capacity.

Ong said if the number of cases doubles, Singapore will have 500 patients in its healthcare system. However, if the number of cases doubles a second time, there will be 1,000 patients, and "that will be a considerable burden on the hospital system." He said, "One thousand beds is equivalent to one regional hospital. So I think the healthcare system has to brace ourselves for what is to come."

No plans for social restrictions

However, the health minister said that there are no plans for any form of social restrictions or any other mandatory type of measures for now, as COVID-19 is now being treated as an endemic disease in Singapore. Imposing additional measures would be done as part of a last-resort basis. Ong further said that with Singapore being a transport and communications hub, it would be one of the cities to get a wave of COVID-19 earlier than others. 

“So COVID-19 is just something that we have to live with. Every year, we should expect one or two waves,” he said. Globally, the predominant COVID-19 variants are still JN.1 and its sub-lineages, including KP.1 and KP.2. Currently, KP.1 and KP.2 account for over two-thirds of cases in Singapore.

What do the new COVID-19 variants do?

The World Health Organisation on May 3 classified KP.2 as a variant under monitoring. Although there are currently no indications on global or local levels, that KP.1 and KP.2 are more transmissible or cause more severe disease than other circulating variants, the MOH said. However, members of the public are urged to stay updated with vaccinations to protect themselves against current and emerging virus strains.

The ministry added that since COVID-19 vaccination started in 2020 to 2021, the vaccines have consistently been proven to be safe and effective in protecting individuals from severe illness. Billions of doses have been administered globally, and safety monitoring internationally has shown that the vaccine is safe, it said.

(with inputs from PTI)

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