Number of people in Singapore hospitalised for Covid-19 rising since March

People waiting outside Khoo Teck Puat Hospital’s emergency department on April 20. - ST PHOTO: GAVIN FOO

SINGAPORE, May 7 (The Straits Times/ANN): Amid a fairly high tally of Covid-19 infections being reported here, the number of people hospitalised has also been climbing over the past eight weeks, since the week of March 5.

Between April 23 and 29, 568 people were admitted to hospital, with 15 sent to the intensive care unit (ICU).

In the past four weeks, between April 2 and 29, 47 patients were admitted to the ICU, up from 43 in the first three months of the year.

According to the Ministry of Health (MOH), in the last week of April, on average, Covid-19 patients took up 317 hospital beds on any one day. In the last week of March, they occupied about 180 beds on average.

In that same week, 22,651 people were diagnosed with Covid-19. While this represents a more than 20 per cent drop over the previous week, the number remains relatively high as one of only four weeks this year with infections topping 20,000.

The actual number of infections is likely to be far higher than reported. But with more than 80 per cent of the population having had at least three vaccine shots, and the infectious disease now treated by the authorities like any other endemic disease, reporting is no longer required.

The vast majority of people infected do not become seriously ill.

Dr Asok Kurup, an infectious diseases specialist with a practice at Mount Elizabeth Medical Centre, said he has been seeing more Covid-19 patients over the past six weeks.

Most have mild to moderate infections, he noted, but they see him rather than a general practitioner (GP) because they have other underlying medical conditions.

One of his patients, for example, is a liver transplant recipient and has lower levels of immunity. He said they are mostly treated as outpatients, with only 10 per cent needing to be hospitalised.

According to the World Health Organisation, as at April 26, Singapore has reported 2.34 million infections and 1,722 deaths from Covid-19.

MOH data shows 30 people have died in the first three months of 2023, of whom two were under the age of 60. This figure is likely to be lower than deaths from influenza.

Prior to Covid-19, there were about 50 deaths caused by the flu each month.

IHH Healthcare Singapore, which runs four private hospitals and more than 30 GP clinics, said it has seen about 10 per cent more patients suffering from upper respiratory tract infections – which include Covid-19, influenza and the common cold – over the past two weeks. But the number is 20 to 30 per cent higher than in March, and the increase in such infectious diseases has been gradual, its spokesman said.

The high number of Covid-19 infections has also pushed up the number of polyclinic patients with upper respiratory tract infections to more than 3,000 a day for the first three weeks of April. This is more than double the number in the same period last year.

Polyclinic attendances are used as a proxy for similar upper respiratory tract infections nationwide. Attendances over those past three weeks are the highest average daily attendances since October last year.

However, the number has dipped to 2,677 a day in the last week of April, mirroring the drop in Covid-19 cases for that week. - The Straits Times/ANN

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