Coronavirus: Inevitable that Singapore will see Covid-19 deaths, says Health Minister Gan Kim Yong

Health Minster Gan Kim Yong told a briefing that patients in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) are in quite critical condition.
Health Minster Gan Kim Yong told a briefing that patients in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) are in quite critical condition.ST PHOTO: JASON QUAH

SINGAPORE - It is inevitable that Singapore will see a fatality from the coronavirus, said Health Minister Gan Kim Yong on Friday (March 6).

Mr Gan, who co-chairs the multi-ministry task force set up to combat the spread of the virus, told a briefing that patients in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) - seven as of Thursday - are in quite critical condition.

"So far our healthcare workers are working very hard and trying their best to support them and hopefully they can recover. But it's inevitable that at some point in time, we will see fatalities from Covid-19, as we've seen all around the world," he said.

Mr Gan has given a similar warning in the past. He told a briefing on Feb 12: "While most infected patients will recover, some may become seriously ill, and a small number may succumb to the infection ultimately. We have to be prepared for the worst."

Medical services director Kenneth Mak, who was also at Friday's briefing, said Singapore was "fortunate" that a number of those hospitalised were only mildly symptomatic and patients had been kept in the hospitals for long periods to ensure they are free of the virus before being discharged.

He told the briefing: "There are some individuals in the ICU who are ill, (they) all require oxygen support, which for a large part involves the use of a ventilator. A number of these individuals have received other treatments, including the use of antiviral medications."

While the Health Ministry does not comment on individual patients in the ICU, Case 42, a 39-year-old Bangladeshi worker hospitalised around a month ago, has yet to be discharged.

He had been in the ICU for about three weeks as of Feb 27. The Bangladesh High Commission said he had been suffering from respiratory and kidney problems and pneumonia before being infected with Covid-19.