SINGAPORE (The Straits Times/Asia News Network): Singapore will extend its Covid-19 restrictions until Nov 21, as the country's healthcare system is at risk of being overwhelmed.
Nearly 90 per cent of the country's 1,650 isolation beds have been filled, while two-thirds of all intensive care unit beds are occupied by Covid-19 cases and non-Covid patients.
"The workload on healthcare workers and hospitals is therefore very significant," said Health Minister Ong Ye Kung at a press conference on Wednesday (Oct 20).
He added that his ministry is working to support and bolster hospitals, including beefing up manpower, but that this will take time.
The extended measures - which include capping group sizes for social gatherings and dining in at two - will be reviewed at the two-week mark and adjusted based on the community situation then.
"It doesn't mean all the measures will have to remain frozen or static throughout this entire month," said Finance Minister Lawrence Wong, who co-chairs the multi-ministry task force handling Covid-19 with Ong.
Instead, the Government will review measures in certain settings and consider making changes in these areas first.
A S$640 million support package will be rolled out to support businesses affected by the extension of tightened restrictions, Wong said.
This includes 25 per cent of wage support for sectors such as food and beverage and retail, as well as half a month of rental waiver.
"This phase will not last indefinitely," he added, urging Singaporeans to understand the need for the measures and support them.
"At some point, the wave will peak. We will also have better immunity against the virus as more people get exposed to it, and we will have more people having boosters in the coming weeks."