Seniors make up nearly half of cases in Bukit Merah, Redhill clusters
It raises concern about risk of severe illness among those not vaccinated
Seniors make up almost half of the Covid-19 cases in the four clusters in Bukit Merah and Redhill, raising concerns about the risk of severe illness among older patients in the ageing estate who are not vaccinated.
According to an analysis by The Straits Times, 46.9 per cent of the 98 cases linked to clusters in the area comprise patients aged 60 and above. The median age is 51 and more than half - 55.1 per cent - are female.
About two in five of the seniors in the clusters are not vaccinated, while the rest of the seniors have received at least one dose of the vaccine.
In total, about 56.1 per cent of the cases in the four clusters have not been vaccinated.
The Bukit Merah View area, where three Covid-19 clusters have emerged in recent weeks, has a higher proportion of elderly residents, said Tanjong Pagar GRC MP Joan Pereira, who oversees the GRC's Henderson-Dawson ward.
"I am worried for our residents, especially since there are vulnerable elderly living in Bukit Merah View, and the risk of severe disease increases with age," she told ST yesterday.
At the same time, she noted that not all of the cases are residents in the constituency, as they also include stallholders, visitors and their household contacts.
The cluster that has attracted the most concern so far is the one at 115 Bukit Merah View Market and Hawker Centre, which has swelled to 82 cases as at last night. It is now Singapore's largest open cluster, since the first case was detected on June 10.
Three more clusters and unlinked cases in the vicinity have also emerged over the past week: 119 Bukit Merah View, with seven cases; 121 Bukit Merah View, with five cases; and 90 Redhill Close, with four cases.
Mr Wong Ming Kee, 67, a Bukit Merah View resident who works in housekeeping at a hospital, is concerned about a number of elderly in the neighbourhood who do not follow the rules, such as not wearing their masks properly.
"When I tell them to pull up their mask, they scold me. I'm worried for my own health so I don't loiter around after buying necessities," he said.
To weed out cases in the area, multiple rounds of testing operations have been organised.
These include 2,133 residents and visitors of eight blocks in Bukit Merah View who were tested on Monday. Of this group, five tested positive for Covid-19, the Ministry of Health said yesterday.
A swab test exercise for seven blocks in Redhill also wrapped up yesterday.
Three residents at one of the blocks had earlier tested positive, forming part of the cluster at 90 Redhill Close announced on Tuesday.
"We are anxiously waiting for the results of the swab tests of the rest of the residents," Radin Mas MP Melvin Yong told ST.
Ms Pereira said she is concerned about less mobile seniors whose grocery buying has been affected by the market's closure. To help them, volunteers in Henderson-Dawson have increased the frequency of meal deliveries to residents.
She noted that about three quarters of those aged above 60 in her ward have been fully vaccinated. Volunteers will continue to step up efforts to encourage other seniors to go for their jabs, she added.
For now, Bukit Merah View resident Long Wei Ai, 80, is taking things in her stride.
"I'm already so old, so I'm not so worried about my own health," she said. But still, she is looking forward to going out when the situation improves.
"I just hope all this blows over soon."
ADDITIONAL REPORTING: ABRIELLE NG, FANG YIYANG