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Singapore expects to cross 1000 cases per day soon, deploys vending machines for ART kits

Lim Hui Jie
Lim Hui Jie • 5 min read
Singapore expects to cross 1000 cases per day soon, deploys vending machines for ART kits
Despite the sharp rise in cases, ICU cases have not risen at the same rate, which could be a "good sign": DMS Kenneth Mak
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Singapore has seen its Covid-19 cases rise sharply in recent weeks, and the country expects to reach daily case numbers of over 1000 soon.

This was revealed by Health Minister Ong Ye Kung in a doorstop interview to the media on Sep 17.

In a release, the Health Ministry (MOH) noted that the average number of cases increased from 146 cases per day a fortnight ago, to 682 cases per day in the past week.

However, it also highlighted that the number of serious cases, for now, remains low. As of 16 September, there are 77 cases requiring oxygen supplementation, and 12 in critical condition in the intensive care unit (ICU). They represent 1.6% and 0.1% of total infections over the last 28 days.

Ong said 98% of cases detected have no symptoms or mild symptoms.

See also: Singapore expects to cross 1000 cases per day soon, deploys vending machines for ART kits

MOH said this was due to the vaccination programme, which has covered 82% of Singapore residents to date. The occurrences of severe illnesses are not even, concentrating mostly on older and unvaccinated infected individuals.

Source: MOH

At the interview, Ong said that Singapore was in Day 26 of the current Covid-19 wave, and added that a wave “typically picks between for up to eight weeks.”

He highlighted that the surge in cases was expected, and said “every country that chooses this path to live with Covid will sooner or later, have to undergo a major wave of transmission that we are seeing now. With an exponential rise in cases. This is almost like a rite of passage before humans and the virus achieves a new equilibrium and things stabilise.”

“Others have unfortunately encountered such waves very early in the pandemic, incurring many casualties. For us, we are going through this only after we have fully vaccinated about 80% of our population," he said.

However, despite the sharp surge in cases in recent weeks, Singapore Director of Medical Services Kenneth Mak said that there is a disconnect in the rise in cases, and the rise in people requiring ICU care or supplementary oxygen.

“What I've been looking at closely is whether or not that same rate [of rising cases] translates to a rate of rise in the number of cases that actually are dependent on oxygen therapy, or those who require ICU care. That has also slowly risen but not at the same pace," said Mak.

“[If] we continue to see a higher number of cases occurring in the community, but a disconnect emerging where the total number of cases in our hospitals require oxygen therapy, it doesn't follow suit in the same rate, we may actually be alright,” Mak added.

Mak said while the “indications are encouraging” at this point, the data is still very early, and Singapore will have to observe the situation over the next two weeks to better understand whether this trend continues.

Ong said it was critical for Singapore to monitor the number of people who fall severely ill or die from the disease, and to also look at whether the hospitals will be overwhelmed.

Singapore has currently 100 ICU beds for Covid-19 cases, and Ong said it is prepared to raise this figure to 300 “at short notice”.

The country will also ramp up the capacity of its community care facilities by another 1000 beds to help divert demand from hospitals, as the majority of the patients have no symptoms or mild symptoms.

Other measures were also announced at the doorstop, including the deployment of 100 vending machines to support the distribution of antigen rapid test (ART) kits, and the expansion of the Home Recovery programme to more people to keep the hospitals from being overburdened.

The program will be further expanded to now include fully vaccinated individuals up to the age of 69 years to recover from Covid-19 at home.

“This allows more COVID-19 patients to recover within the comfort of their homes, and for us to further direct our hospitals’ resources to those who really need more intensive care,” MOH said.

From 18 Sep, home recovery will be the default care model for fully vaccinated individuals with are aged 12 to 69 years old, and with no severe co-morbidities or illnesses.

They also must be able to self-isolate in a room, preferably with an attached bathroom; and have no household members who are more than 80 years old or are considered vulnerable, like pregnant individuals or those with weakened immune response.

Travel restrictions relaxed

Singapore will also relax travel restrictions for travellers from Poland and Saudi Arabia from Sep 22, 11.59 pm. The travellers from these two countries will need to only serve a seven day Stay-Home Notice (SHN) at a place of accommodation, instead of 14 days.

This is in addition to the on-arrival and pre-departure tests, as well as the third PCR test on day 7 of their quarantine.

MOH has also relaxed quarantine requirements for vaccinated travellers from Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, France, Latvia, Portugal and Spain. Vaccinated travellers from these countries may apply to serve their 14-day SHN at a suitable accommodation of their choice, but unvaccinated travellers must still serve their SHN at dedicated facilities.

Travellers from Indonesia will also be allowed to transit through Singapore and will be subject to an on arrival PCR test, but travellers from Indonesia who are coming into Singapore will still need to serve their SHN at dedicated facilities.

Photo: MCI

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