S’pore facing new Covid-19 wave, vaccination recommended especially for seniors: Ong Ye Kung

SINGAPORE – Singapore is seeing a new Covid-19 wave, with rising cases of infection in the last two weeks, said Health Minister Ong Ye Kung on May 18.

“We are at the beginning part of the wave where it is steadily rising,” said Mr Ong. “So I would say the wave should peak in the next two to four weeks, which means between mid to end of June.”

He urged those who are at greatest risk of severe disease, including individuals aged 60 years and above, medically vulnerable individuals and residents of aged care facilities, to receive an additional dose of the Covid-19 vaccine if they have not done so in the last 12 months.

The Ministry of Health (MOH) said the estimated number of Covid-19 cases in the week of May 5 to 11 rose to 25,900 cases, compared with 13,700 cases in the previous week. The average daily Covid-19 hospitalisations rose to about 250 from 181 the week before. The average daily intensive care unit (ICU) cases remained low at three cases, compared with two cases in the previous week.

Mr Ong said that if the number of Covid-19 cases doubles one time, Singapore will have 500 patients in its healthcare system, which is what Singapore can handle. However, if the number of cases doubles a second time, there will be 1,000 patients, and “that will be a considerable burden on the hospital system”, he noted.

“One thousand beds is equivalent to one regional hospital,” Mr Ong said. “So I think the healthcare system has to brace ourselves for what is to come.”

There are no plans for any form of social restrictions or any other mandatory type of measures for now, as Covid-19 is treated as an endemic disease in Singapore, he said, adding that imposing additional measures would be a last resort.

Mr Ong said that with Singapore being a transport and communications hub, it will be one of the cities to get a wave of Covid-19 earlier than others.

“So Covid is just something that we have to live with. Every year, we should expect one or two waves,” he said.

Minister Ong was speaking to the media on the sidelines of the Community in Review 2024 (CIR 2024) Conference – Thriving with Age: Building a World of Active Ageing at the Furama Riverfront.

Globally, the predominant Covid-19 variants are still JN.1 and its sub-lineages, including KP.1 and KP.2. Currently, KP.1 and KP.2 account for over two-thirds of cases in Singapore.

As of May 3, the World Health Organisation has classified KP.2 as a Variant Under Monitoring. There are currently no indications, globally or locally, that KP.1 and KP.2 are more transmissible or cause more severe disease than other circulating variants, MOH said.

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