Singapore expands Covid restrictions as circumstances stay excessive


May 2021 at a mall in Singapore before restrictions tighten over concerns over spike in Covid-19 coronavirus cases.

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SINGAPORE – Singapore’s Covid restrictions have been extended for another four weeks, authorities said Wednesday after new daily cases hit a record high of 3,994 on Tuesday.

The restrictions, which include group size limits for social gatherings and the cessation of working from home to the standard, will now apply through November 21, with a two-week review due.

“In the current situation we are faced with a considerable risk of overloading the health system,” said Treasury Secretary Lawrence Wong at a press conference on Wednesday.

These measures should go into effect from September 27th to October 24th and health officials said they would re-examine the restrictions due to the Covid situation.

Singapore has tightened and relaxed restrictions several times this year and eased them in response to the number of Covid cases. The government has repeatedly stated that it wants to ensure that the health system is not overwhelmed.

At the same press conference, Health Minister Ong Ye Kung said the record number of cases is likely to be a spike after the weekend.

On Tuesday, the Ministry of Health said the local hospitals were under “considerable pressure and strain” as the number of patients in the intensive care unit had risen to 71 according to official figures.

According to a press release from the Ministry of Health, 89% of 1,650 isolation beds in public hospitals are occupied. Around 67% of the beds in the intensive care unit are occupied, although a number of patients have been admitted for surveillance purposes, the statement said.

“If we have to, we’ll open more intensive care beds,” Ong said. “The next jump will be to 300 beds, but that will come at the expense of a further deterioration in normal service and medical care.”

Health officials also encouraged people to cut back on their social activities, saying Tuesday that more people visited shopping malls or used public transportation over the past week.

The number of unvaccinated seniors who became infected rose to around 100 per day, the Ministry of Health said, noting that this group was particularly at risk and very much at risk of getting very sick.

A total of 1,738 cases were in hospital as of Tuesday, with 338 people needing oxygen supplementation, official data showed. The vast majority of cases in the past 28 days had either no symptoms or only mild symptoms.

Since the pandemic started, Singapore has reported 154,725 cases and around 84% of the population has been vaccinated. In the Southeast Asian country of around 5.45 million people, 246 people have died of Covid-19.