S'pore's daily Covid-19 cases to hit 1,000 soon in 'rite of passage' before situation stabilises: Ong Ye Kung

SINGAPORE – Singapore is likely to see 1,000 Covid-19 cases a day soon with the number of daily cases doubling every week, said Health Minister Ong Ye Kung on Friday (Sept 17).

This is not unexpected, he added. Every country that has decided to live with the virus will sooner or later have to undergo a “major wave of transmission”, just as Singapore is having now.

“This is almost like a rite of passage before humans and the virus achieve a new equilibrium and things stabilise,” Mr Ong said at a press conference by the multi-ministry taskforce on Covid-19, which he co-chairs.

Singapore reported 910 cases on Thursday evening. Some 803 were detected in the community, with 103 in migrant worker dormitories and four imported cases.

Friday marked the 26th day of the current Covid-19 wave, which is likely to peak between four and eight weeks, Mr Ong said.

The average number of daily cases has increased from 146 a fortnight ago, to 682 cases in the past week. But the large majority – over 98 per cent – have no symptoms or mild symptoms.

The number of serious cases also remains low, with 77 requiring oxygen support and 12 in critical condition as at Thursday. They represent 1.6 per cent and 0.1 per cent of total infections over the last 28 days.

“We are not the first country to have gone through this baptism of fire, and we will not be the last,” the minister said.

Singapore’s director of medical services Kenneth Mak observed that the number of serious cases is not rising in sync with the overall number of cases.

“We do need to look at the situation over the next two weeks to see if that trend continues, and if it does… I think this would be a good sign for us,” he said.

Mr Ong listed three uncertainties in the weeks ahead – first, how long more daily cases will continue to rise before dipping.

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Second, whether Singapore will run out of intensive care unit (ICU) beds, and finally, whether hospitals as a whole will be overburdened and run out of beds.

To address this issue, the authorities will expand the home recovery programme to make it the default for Covid-19 patients aged 12 to 69 from Saturday (Sept 18). Previously, only those aged up to 50 were eligible.

The plan is for seven in 10 Covid-19 patients to recover at home from next week, up from about a third this week, he said.

To make testing more convenient, 100 vending machines are being rolled out at 56 locations islandwide for those with health risk warnings to collect self-test kits.

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