S'pore hospitals well able to deal with increase in Covid-19 cases, ICU occupancy at 7%

Public hospitals currently have more than 1,200 beds for adult and paediatric Covid-19 cases. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - The bed occupancy for severely ill Covid-19 patients in intensive care units (ICU) is at about 7 per cent, allowing hospitals here to be well able to deal with the Covid-19 cases that have been detected over the last few weeks.

Speaking at a press conference by the multi-ministry task force on Covid-19 on Wednesday (Jan 5), Singapore's director of medical services, Associate Professor Kenneth Mak, said public hospitals currently have more than 1,200 beds for adult and paediatric Covid-19 cases.

The current bed occupancy is under 28 per cent for adult patients, and public hospital ICU occupancy is less than 44 per cent for all critically ill patients.

Singapore recorded 842 new Covid-19 cases as at noon on Tuesday, with 334 in the community. Of the 842 cases, 438 were of the new Omicron variant, with 91 local and the rest imported. 

The weekly infection growth rate on Tuesday was 1.09, up from Monday’s 0.95, the first time since Nov 12 that the weekly infection growth rate is more than one.

Prof Mak added that hospitals have also cautiously started to clear some of the elective caseload of patients with less urgent conditions, whose operations and treatments had been deferred over the last three months.

He said: "We've also allowed the hospitals to redesignate some of the beds previously reserved for Covid-19 patients for use by non-Covid-19 patients at present, so that they are better able to cater to the needs of these patients at this time."

But he also warned that the authorities have been careful not to allow "excessive drawing down" of isolation and ICU beds for Covid-19, as the situation may change very quickly, given the highly transmissible Omicron variant.

While hospital staff have been allowed to stand down from duties in the ICU and start taking leave to rest, hospitals are still able to augment their healthcare staff at very short notice, Prof Mak said.

They are also able to expand the isolation and ICU bed capabilities to meet any potential increase in hospitalised Covid-19 patients.

Community treatment facilities (CTFs) are also prepared to accept more patients.

There were 3,850 active Covid-19 cases on Monday, of which nearly 88 per cent were in the home recovery programme or in community isolation facilities. 

Just over 9 per cent of Covid-19 patients currently need to be admitted into hospitals or CTFs, Prof Mak said.

Hospitals and CTFs are reviewing their protocols to better look after Covid-19 cases. This includes the administration of antiviral and monoclonal antibody therapies for high-risk cases to improve their chances of recovery, he added.

They will also be tweaking their criteria to allow more patients to recover in CTFs to avoid burdening hospitals, in light of the anticipated Omicron surge.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.