News: Singapore tracking COVID trend after cases double in a week


Singapore tracking COVID trend after cases double in a week

The new wave of COVID infections in Singapore is expected to peak in the next two to four weeks, health officials warned.
Singapore tracking COVID trend after cases double in a week

SINGAPORE – The city state is in the beginning phase of a new COVID trend, with cases "steadily rising," according to Singapore's Health Minister Ong Ye Kung.

Within one week, Singapore reported a two-fold increase in the number of COVID cases, from 13,700 in the week of 5-11 May to 25,900 on 12-18 May. The uptrend prompted health officials to urge people to start wearing masks again.

"The wave should peak in the next two to four weeks, which means between mid and end-June," Kung said, as reported by The Straits Times.

As Singapore implements heightened measures against a new wave, the nearby country of Malaysia is also preparing for a COVID uptrend.

Preparing for hospitalisations

The spike in infections comes just weeks after the World Health Organization flagged the Omicron subvariant KP.2 for monitoring. The strain, along with KP.1, is one of the subvariants infecting two-thirds of COVID patients in Singapore. The hospitalisation rate is at 250 cases on average, up from 181 in the previous week.

While an exponential increase to 500 hospitalisations per week is still manageable at this point, a rise to 1,000 cases would already require an entire regional hospital and would result in a "considerable burden on the hospital system," the health minister said. "The healthcare system has to brace itself for what is to come."

Health officials are thus asking hospitals to plan their response system this early.

"To protect hospital bed capacity and as a precaution, public hospitals have been asked to reduce their non-urgent elective surgery cases and move suitable patients to care facilities like Transitional Care Facilities or at home through Mobile Inpatient Care@Home," Kung said.

Why the rise in COVID cases in Singapore

With Singapore serving as an economic and transport hub for Asia Pacific, the city state is exposed to such risks more quickly than other places. "COVID-19 is just something that we have to live with. Every year, we should expect one or two waves," Kung said.

While the WHO has warned against the Omicron subvariants spreading, Singapore's health ministry said: "There are currently no indications, globally or locally, that KP.1 and KP.2 are more transmissible or cause more severe disease than other circulating variants."

One theory regarding the current spike in Singapore points to the likelihood of the population's immunity weakening against newer strains. Most Singaporeans did not receive an additional dose of vaccine in the past year. This suggests the need to reconsider another jab. "Even as we live with COVID-19 as an endemic disease, we cannot afford to lower our guard," the health minister pointed out.

What will happen next?

The Singaporean government is asking the public, especially those who face a high risk for infection, to receive an additional dose of vaccine. An information drive through text messaging is under way to prompt citizens into action.

Meanwhile, COVID testing and vaccination centres across the country will extend their operating hours to accommodate any increase in screening or innoculation.

As regards any potential lockdown, Kung said restrictions on social or business activity would be treated as a "last resort" in curtailing the spread of COVID.

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Topics: Business, #Wellbeing

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