Singapore

Singapore’s approach to managing Covid-19 is ‘correct’: Minister

It has helped avert 'massive deaths' and he sees 'light at end of tunnel'

In managing the Covid-19 pandemic, Singapore took neither a "zero-Covid-19" nor a "living with Covid-19" approach.

When the population was vulnerable, an eradication strategy was adopted, but the country has been opening up progressively since vaccination has given Singaporeans a protective shield.

Health Minister Ong Ye Kung said this yesterday morning in his opening address at the virtual Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society Asia-Pacific Conference.

"Some may feel that this middle-of-the-road approach is unclear, and may even appear to be a 'flip-flop'. But it has helped us avert the massive deaths that many countries have suffered from," he said.

"It is the correct approach for Singapore and, day by day, we are moving closer to the light at the end of the tunnel."

Infection numbers have shot up in recent weeks and there have been more related deaths. The Health Ministry is mobilising more manpower, such as from polymerase chain reaction (PCR) swab operations, since the ministry is doing fewer of them. A total of 1,600 trained volunteers have stepped forward to help. Healthcare protocols have also been simplified, and the ministry is roping in private sector hospitals to help share the burden.

THREE CATEGORIES

These are the three categories under the new protocols: People who have symptoms and test positive for Covid-19; those who have no symptoms but test positive; and close contacts of a positive case.

This simpler set of rules for Covid-19 patients and their close contacts was rolled out from Oct 11, bringing an end to quarantine orders and leave of absence notices.

The aim is to make healthcare protocols easier to understand and reduce the burden on government resources, including phone operators and quarantine officers.

The new rules override some existing ones and allow people to resume daily life after a preset amount of time rather than wait for official test results.

They also mean that Singapore's Covid-19 strategy now relies heavily on antigen rapid tests, which typically produce results in 15 minutes and can be self-administered.

Results from PCR tests, processed in laboratories, take six to 12 hours for clinically urgent cases.

In his speech, Mr Ong also mentioned how digital technology has disrupted many industries and that healthcare will also be affected. But he noted that the healthcare sector is complex and unlikely to see disruption happening as quickly.

There are significant policy, regulatory and public confidence issues to be addressed before digital technology can be fully harnessed to transform and improve healthcare systems around the world, he said.

Singapore sees 2,553 new cases and six more Covid deaths

Six Singaporeans, aged 78 to 93, have died of complications linked to Covid-19, taking Singapore's virus death toll to 239.

Four were men and two were women, the Ministry of Health (MOH) said yesterday.

Four were unvaccinated. Of the remaining two, one was vaccinated and the other was partially vaccinated.

All of them had underlying medical conditions, MOH said in its daily update, without giving further details.

Of those who died of such complications over the past 28 days, 25.5 per cent were fully vaccinated and the rest were either unvaccinated or partially vaccinated. Deaths linked to Covid-19 have been recorded daily since Sept 20.

There were 2,553 new Covid-19 infections in total, comprising 2,008 new cases in the community, 544 in migrant worker dormitories and one imported case.

The local cases included 359 people above 60 years old.

Among the large clusters that are being closely monitored, six had new cases.

Bukit Batok Home for the Aged had eight new cases, bringing its total to 52. These include 51 residents and one employee.

Two new cases were also added to United Medicare Centre in Toa Payoh, bringing the size of the cluster to 128.

Of these, 109 are residents, 18 are staff and one is a household contact of a case.

My World Preschool at Hougang Dewcourt had two new cases for 16 in total.

Of the 16 cases, three are staff, nine are students and four are household contacts of cases.

One new case was each added to St Andrew's Nursing Home in Taman Jurong, MWS Christalite Methodist Home in Marsiling, and Apex Harmony Lodge in Pasir Ris.

The total number of cases in Singapore now stands at 150,731.

As at yesterday, there were 15,132 patients in home recovery, 3,209 in community care facilities and 858 in Covid-19 treatment facilities.

There were 1,714 patients in hospital, up from 1,651 on Sunday, with 337 patients requiring oxygen support.

There were 67 patients in the intensive care unit. - THE STRAITS TIMES


By the numbers

2,553

New cases

2,552

In community, dormitories

1

Imported

239

Deaths

1,714

In hospitals

150,731

Total cases

coronavirus