Covid19 Emerging Wave
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Singapore, [07/10/2023] – Singapore is grappling with another wave of Covid19, prompting Health Minister Ong Ye Kung to caution that more cases are expected, leading to hospitalizations in the coming weeks. Ong revealed that daily cases have surged from around 1,000 three weeks ago to 2,000 in the past two weeks. Despite this surge, the government intends to treat Covid-19 as an “endemic disease.”
Dominance of Variants
The recent surge in cases is primarily driven by two variants: EG.5 and its sub-lineage HK.3, both descendants of the XBB Omicron variant. Together, these variants now account for over 75 percent of Singapore’s daily cases, as stated by Ong in an interview with Channel News Asia.
Despite the surge in cases, there are currently no plans to impose social restrictions similar to those during the last wave in March to April when infections reached approximately 4,000 cases per day. Singapore’s strategy is to treat Covid-19 as an endemic disease and live with it.
Ong highlighted that there is no evidence to suggest that the new variants are more likely to cause severe illnesses compared to previous variants. He emphasized that current vaccines continue to be effective in protecting against severe illness if infected by these new variants.
Warning Against Complacency
While expressing confidence in the effectiveness of vaccines, Ong warned Singaporeans not to lower their guard against Covid19. He anticipates an increase in Covid-19 cases in the coming weeks, which could lead to higher hospitalizations and longer waiting times.
Ong shared findings from a Ministry of Health (MOH) study, which revealed varying incidence rates of severe illness depending on vaccination status and natural infection history. For individuals with robust protection (three mRNA shots and a natural infection within the last 12 months), the severe illness incidence rate is about 10 per 100,000 people.
In contrast, those who are “least protected” (no minimum protection and no recorded infection) are five times more likely to become seriously ill when infected, with an incidence rate exceeding 50 per 100,000 people.
Ong also stressed the importance of timely vaccination for seniors and vulnerable individuals. He recommended that these groups keep their vaccinations up to date, ideally receiving a shot at least once a year.
He concluded by emphasizing that while the virus may not have become milder, people have become stronger and more resilient due to vaccinations and safe recoveries from infections.
The Ministry of Health (MOH) continues to provide free Covid-19 vaccinations at various vaccination centers, ensuring that the public has access to vaccines as a key defense against the ongoing challenges posed by the virus. 🇸🇬💉🏨