Stabilisation measures extended to Nov 21 to protect healthcare system

Move is to protect healthcare system from being overwhelmed; review at two-week mark

Singapore will extend its Covid-19 restrictions by one month to Nov 21, as the country's healthcare system is at risk of being overwhelmed.

The extended measures - which include capping group sizes for social gatherings and dining out at two - will be reviewed at the two-week mark and adjusted based on the community situation then.

The Health Ministry (MOH) will add more intensive care unit beds if necessary, said Health Minister Ong Ye Kung at a press conference yesterday. "The next leap will be to 300 beds, but that will be at the expense of further degradation of normal service and normal medical care."

Nearly 90 per cent of the 1,650 isolation beds set aside for Covid-19 patients have been filled, while two-thirds of all intensive care unit beds are occupied by both Covid-19 cases and other patients.

"The hospitals are no doubt bracing themselves for a sustained heavy patient load. MOH is doing whatever we can to support and bolster the hospitals," said Mr Ong, who co-chairs the multi-ministry task force handling Covid-19.

In last night's update, MOH said there were 1,718 Covid-19 patients in hospital with 337 requiring oxygen support and 67 in the intensive care unit. A total of 3,862 new cases and 18 deaths were reported yesterday. Mr Ong noted there was no sign cases were beginning to fall, and that this would take time.

The number of unvaccinated seniors who get infected with Covid-19 also remains high, at about 100 a day. But the silver lining is that case numbers have stabilised over the past two weeks or so, with more people becoming, at worst, mildly ill and fewer vaccinated seniors becoming infected, he said.

In announcing the extension of the stabilisation period, his co-chair, Finance Minister Lawrence Wong, said "it doesn't mean all the measures will have to remain frozen or static throughout this entire month". Instead, the Government will review measures in certain settings and consider making changes in these areas first.

A $640 million support package will be rolled out to support businesses. This includes 25 per cent of wage support for sectors such as food and beverage, retail, cinemas, museums, tourism and gyms, as well as half a month of rental waivers for eligible building tenants.

Stallholders in hawker centres managed by the National Environment Agency or its appointed operators will receive half a month of rental waivers. Cabbies and private hire drivers will get $10 per vehicle a day next month, and $5 a day under the Covid-19 Driver Relief Fund.