Singapore on one-month stabilisation phase to slow down Covid-19 spread

Customers tap their Trace Together Safe Entry token to enter a market in Singapore, on Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021. Daily infection levels have been ticking higher since the Singaporean government signaled a shift in its Covid strategy, from wiping out all cases to accepting the virus is endemic. - Bloomberg

SINGAPORE, Sept 25 (Bernama): Singapore will be on Stabilisation Phase for one month from Monday (Sept 27) through Oct 24, 2021, to slow down community transmissions of the Covid-19 virus.

Under the phase, among others, work-from-home will be the default for employees who are able to do so; and permissible group sizes for social gatherings will be reduced to a maximum of two persons from a maximum of five persons.

Speaking at a virtual press conference here today, the co-chair of the Multi-ministerial Task Force (MTF) on Covid-19, Gan Kim Yong said Singapore has seen a rapid increase in the number of locally transmitted cases reported daily.

"Currently, we are almost in the 1,600 cases range and if the trend continues, the number of cases is likely to double to 3,200 a day by next week and may even increase beyond that,” said Gan who is also the republic’s Trade and Industry Minister.

Gan noted that the MTF is also keeping a close watch on the number of serious cases.

"Today, the number of serious cases is still manageable. However, based on our experience, it takes about a week to 10 days or more for positive cases to show complications.

"If positive cases continue to rise rapidly, we will expect to see the number of serious cases rise also.”

In fact, Gan said the republic is already starting to see a rise in the number of persons requiring oxygen, admission into the intensive care unit (ICU) and deaths, mostly from cases detected some weeks ago.

"While ICU cases are being watched, the rapidly increasing number of new cases is also of concern as "it is putting a serious strain on our hospital resources, despite shifting to the community care facilities and home care,” he said.

Thus, to ensure the healthcare system can continue to cope with these cases, "we will need to take action to slow the rise in cases to protect our hospital system.”

Apart from tightening some of the safe management measures to slow down the increase in the number of cases, Gan said further adjustments will be made to its health care protocols so that only those who need hospital care will go to the hospital.

Gan noted that tightening some of the safe management measures was "a very difficult decision as this would affect many businesses and people.”

"On doing so it may not reduce the number of daily new infections immediately but it will allow us to slow down the speed of increase and avoid overtaxing our healthcare workers.

"It will also give us time to accelerate the scaling up of our support for home recovery and our community care facilities,” he said.

Nonetheless, Gan assured that Singapore remains committed to reopening its economic as well as social activities and being connected to the rest of the world.

"The journey may take longer so that we can do so safely,” he said.

The Task Force also announced that Singapore will be expanding its vaccine booster program after starting it on Sept 15 for seniors aged 60, and above.

"The Expert Committee on Covid-19 vaccination has now recommended for persons aged between 50 to 59 years old to also receive boosters. So they too can continue to do enjoy high levels of protection against serious illness,” said Gan.

Singapore reported a total of 1,504 new cases of Covid-19 infection on Thursday (Sept 23), the highest since the pandemic began last year.

In its nightly data update Thursday, the Ministry of Health (MOH) said 1,120 cases currently warded in hospital with 163 cases of serious illness requiring oxygen supplementation, and 23 in critical condition in the ICU.

Over the last 28 days, MOH said of the 15,791 infected individuals, 97.9 per cent had no or mild symptoms, 1.8 per cent required oxygen supplementation, 0.2 per cent required ICU care, and 0.1 per cent had died.

The total Covid-19 caseload currently stood at 82,860 here with 10,379 active cases. - Bernama

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