For the past few weeks, Singapore has witnessed a startling increase in Covid-19 cases.
While this has certainly been cause for worry, the situation is not as dire as one might think. In a Parliamentary session today (5 Jul), Health Minister Ong Ye Kung stated that the new Covid-19 wave is either approaching or already at its peak.
It is also not as serious as an earlier wave of infections. To help more people recover at home, clinics will be offering oral medication to eligible patients this time.
In response to questions about the current pandemic situation, Mr Ong said during a Parliamentary session on Tuesday (5 Jul) that the current Covid-19 wave is almost at its peak.
Authorities were already anticipating the wave due to news of the BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants emerging, both of which are more contagious than the earlier BA.2 subvariant.
However, the surge has arrived earlier than the expected timeframe of Jul and Aug. Fortunately, it is also milder than the earlier Omicron wave.
“This is because many more of us have gained stronger immunity, either through booster shots or recovery from infections,” he explained, stating that these factors will hinder the circulation and transmission of the cases.
He also added that citizens can expect more than 12,000 cases on Tuesday (5 Jul) — 10% more than the previous week.
Addressing the high amount of cases, Mr Ong pointed out:
We are near the peak, if not, at the peak, and we should be relieved that the number this week did not double from last week.
Mr Ong addressed the key to managing the next wave, which is to avoid overwhelming Singapore’s hospital capacity.
One way of ensuring this would be by implementing high vaccination and booster coverage. In addition, healthcare institutions and facilities should make preparations to increase their capacities if admissions increase.
Hospitals, general clinics, and other healthcare institutions are on standby to bolster their capacity, should the need arise.
If there is an increase in patients who require hospitalisation, hospitals will also be able to ramp up dedicated ICU and isolation bed capacities.
In addition, the Covid-19 treatment facilities have “sufficient beds” for serious cases which do not require hospital care. Such facilities are already 25% occupied.
During the session, Mr Ong reassured Parliament that primary care and nursing home settings will have ‘Paxlovid‘ available to patients.
Paxlovid is a form of oral medication to treat Covid-19. Increasing the offerings of this medication will thus ensure the minimisation of serious disease and hospitalisation.
Pre-exposure medication Prophylaxis will also be available for at-risk patients.
“As of 30 Jun, all polyclinics and 103 participating Public Health Preparedness Clinics (PHPCs) can prescribe oral anti-virals to clinically eligible patients in the community,” Mr Ong said.
However, hospitals continue to face high demand from Covid-19 patients. Addressing this, Mr Ong said:
If we still want to reduce the infection rate even further, more stringent safe management measures will need to be implemented. And that means reintroducing things like group sizes, capacity limits, and masking outdoors.
Seeing how far we’ve come, we owe our healthcare institutions a debt of gratitude for helping us to tackle the crisis.
In the face of another wave, let’s hope the authorities won’t have to reimpose old restrictions.
Hopefully too, most mild cases can recover and we can resume our return to normalcy.
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Featured image adapted from MCI Singapore on YouTube.
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