Mr Lee Kuan Yew's condition worsens due to infection: PMO

SINGAPORE - Former prime minister Lee Kuan Yew's health condition has taken a turn for the worse because of an infection, the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) said yesterday.

In a brief statement, it said Mr Lee, 91, is on antibiotics and the doctors are closely monitoring his condition.

Mr Lee has been warded at the Singapore General Hospital (SGH) for severe pneumonia since Feb 5.

This is the sixth statement on his condition within a month. The PMO first announced his hospitalisation in a statement on Feb 21, and said on Feb 26 that he was still warded. An update on Feb 28 said Mr Lee's condition had improved slightly, and that he was continuing with his antibiotics.

It also said he remained sedated and on mechanical ventilation at the intensive care unit in SGH.

Subsequent updates on March 6 and last Friday said Mr Lee's condition remained largely unchanged, and that he continued to be watched closely by his doctors.

Yesterday's statement, shared by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on his Facebook page, led to a renewed outpouring of good wishes and support from Singaporeans. PM Lee's post received 4,876 likes and 1,365 shares within seven hours.

Ministers and MPs also conveyed their concern for the elder Mr Lee. Manpower Minister Tan Chuan-Jin wrote on Facebook: "Let's continue to keep Mr Lee Kuan Yew in our thoughts and prayers."

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Dr Chia Shi-Lu and Dr Lily Neo, who are MPs alongside Mr Lee in Tanjong Pagar GRC, also took to Facebook to wish him a quick recovery.

Pneumonia is an infection of the lungs, usually caused by bacteria or a virus. A mechanical ventilator, such as the one Mr Lee is on, takes over the breathing function of the lungs.

This gives the medication - such as antibiotics in the case of a bacterial infection - time to work and the body time to recover.

But patients who use a mechanical ventilator risk getting infections as the device "allows germs to get into the lungs more easily", according to the American Thoracic Society.

Patients can get two bouts or more of the disease from different bugs. They could get pneumonia caused by a virus and, in their weakened state, catch a bacterial infection, Dr Lee Yeow Hian, a respiratory physician and internist in private practice, told The Sunday Times last month.

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