Singapore records 3,577 COVID-19 new cases; experts predict a surge in days to come

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October 07, 2021 12:35 PM

Experts believe the spike in infections is not unexpected, but whether the pace of increase now dovetails with what the Multi-Ministry Task Force (MTF) views as a stable number to stay on course towards reopening economic activities is unclear, a Straits Times report said.

covid 19 cases in singaporeSingapore's strategy in tackling the pandemic has been to test, trace and vaccinate. (Photo source: Reuters)

Singapore reported 3,577 COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, including 630 from dormitories housing foreign workers, with experts predicting a more challenging time ahead for hospitals and primary health care clinics with daily infections in the affluent city-state expected to surge between 5,000 and 10,000 cases.

Experts believe the spike in infections is not unexpected, but whether the pace of increase now dovetails with what the Multi-Ministry Task Force (MTF) views as a stable number to stay on course towards reopening economic activities is unclear, a Straits Times report said.

Finance Minister Lawrence Wong, who co-chairs MTF, highlighted the challenge in predicting a peak, saying on October 2 that there was a range of views with some thinking the current wave will peak at about 5,000 new daily cases while others think it will be around 10,000 daily infections.

“No model can predict with absolute certainty what the epidemic curve will look like in the next few weeks. It just simply means that we have to be prepared for this range of possible outcomes,” Wong said.”If we can keep it under 6,000 daily cases, we should be fine… I am hoping the United States experience will be repeated with us,” the daily quoted Dr Leong Hoe Nam, an infectious diseases specialist from the Rophi Clinic at Mount Elizabeth Novena. The pace at which Singapore reopens will depend on the hospital load, he said.

Associate Professor Hsu Li Yang, an infectious diseases expert at the NUS Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health, said local and international data show that the efficacy of the current COVID-19 vaccines at preventing infections drop substantially after several months, especially against the Delta variant.

“That accounts for the increasing case numbers even though approximately 83 per cent of our population have received both doses of the vaccine. This does not mean we cannot open up, but that we must still take care to prevent our hospitals and primary care clinics from being overwhelmed,” Hsu said.

“If it gets worse, even regular medical services may be compromised. This will be disastrous. Hence, the Ministry of Health (MOH) is taking a pre-emptive approach in building community treatment facilities. But if these facilities get overwhelmed, the hospitals will be under heat again,” Leong said.

Singapore’s strategy in tackling the pandemic has been to test, trace and vaccinate. Although more than 80 per cent of the population is fully vaccinated, with booster shots being rolled out for patients over 50 years of age, the number of new cases continue to climb.

In anticipation of a surge, the Ministry of Health (MOH) last month had set up the COVID-19 Treatment Facility — to care for and manage elderly patients who are stable, mildly symptomatic, clinically well but with some underlying chronic illnesses or comorbidities. The 3,577 new cases reported on Wednesday included 630 residents of migrant worker dormitories and 15 imported cases. The total number of cases in Singapore now stands at 113,381, while 133 have died linked to the disease, three of whom were unvaccinated Singapore women aged between 68 and 102, said the MOH.

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