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161 deaths and a slowdown in reported infection rate: Singapore's COVID-19 situation since the start of new restrictions

161 deaths and a slowdown in reported infection rate: Singapore's COVID-19 situation since the start of new restrictions

An ambulance leaves the National Centre for Infectious Diseases (NCID) in Singapore on Apr 3, 2020. (Photo: AFP/Roslan Rahman)

SINGAPORE: Singapore has reported more than 160 COVID-19 deaths in the past three weeks, as the country experiences its worst wave of the pandemic.

There has also been an upward trend in the number of cases who require hospital care, patients who need oxygen supplementation and those in the intensive care unit.

Three weeks ago, the Government tightened restrictions for dining-in and social gatherings in what it called the Stabilisation Phase. The restrictions are expected to be in place until Oct 24. 

The Ministry of Health (MOH) said then that it would review the measures two weeks after implementation and adjust them based on the community situation. 

At a multi-ministry task force press conference on Sep 24 when the new restrictions were announced, co-chair Gan Kim Yong said the "rapid" rise in COVID-19 cases was putting a "serious strain" on hospital resources.

At the time, he warned that the daily number of cases, about 1,600 then, could double by the next week and increase beyond that if the trend continues. 

About a week after that, Mr Gan said the daily number of COVID-19 cases could rise to more than 5,000 although the "vast majority" would be asymptomatic or have mild symptoms. 

On Oct 9, the authorities announced that the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test would be reserved for those who are unwell. Most people could use the antigen rapid test, in a change in healthcare protocols.

Singapore introduced home recovery as a pilot programme at the end of August and expanded it to more cases as the number of infections spiked, in a bid to reduce the strain on the healthcare system.

About 98 per cent of local COVID-19 cases were asymptomatic or had mild symptoms, MOH said.

These are the numbers showing Singapore's COVID-19 situation: 

INFECTIONS

Singapore reported 1,647 new COVID-19 cases on Sep 27, the day measures were tightened. By the next day, new cases topped 2,000 for the first time, and have not fallen below since.

A week later, on Oct 5, the country reported more than 3,000 cases. MOH recorded more than 3,000 new cases daily until Oct 10, when the daily number dipped below 3,000.

While numbers continued to increase, MOH on Oct 8 said that the time period for infections to double had slowed from six to eight days three weeks before to about 10 to 12 days.

Health Minister and task force co-chair Ong Ye Kung also said several days later that the measures were helping to "moderate the transmission wave", and infection numbers were no longer doubling every week.

The daily number of infections has been hovering around 3,000, dropping slightly to 2,553 cases as of noon on Monday, according to the latest figures.

DEATHS

As cases started to mount, so did the death rate. On Sep 27, MOH reported two deaths. The number varied in the following days, ranging from two to nine. It crossed into double digits on Oct 9, with Singapore reporting 11 deaths that day.

The highest number of deaths reported in a day was on Oct 14, with 15 fatalities. That day, the country also recorded its youngest fatality from COVID-19 – a 23-year-old who was partially vaccinated and had multiple underlying medical conditions.

From Sep 27 to Oct 18, Singapore reported 161 COVID-19 fatalities – a spike from the 23 deaths in the same period prior.

ICU AND OXYGEN SUPPLEMENTATION

On Sep 27, there were 27 COVID-19 cases in ICU. It breached the 30-mark and remained in the thirties in the days after, before hitting 40 on Oct 7.

The number of cases in ICU has not fallen below that since then.

On Oct 16, MOH recorded a big spike in the number of ICU cases – from 48 to 62. As of noon on Monday, there were 67 cases in ICU.

The number of patients who needed oxygen supplementation stood at 194 on Sep 27. This number was more than 200 every day from Sep 30, crossing the 300-mark on Oct 8. Since then, the number has been mostly above 300, reaching 337 as of noon on Monday. 

HOSPITALISATION

The total number of people hospitalised has climbed steadily from Sep 27. On Oct 11, there were 1,698 cases in hospital.

On Oct 10, the home recovery programme was expanded to become the default care arrangement for everyone, with the exception of a few groups.

These include partially or unvaccinated people aged 50 and above, vaccinated people 80 years and older, children under one, and children aged one to four who have been assessed to be clinically unsuitable for home recovery.

While numbers dipped slightly, they have started to rise again. As of noon on Monday, there were 1,714 cases in hospital, said MOH.

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Source: CNA/ja

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