Recent surge in Covid-19 cases not unexpected: Ong Ye Kung

Mr Ong Ye Kung said many people seeing their GPs for Covid-19 are only mildly sick. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

SINGAPORE - The recent surge in Covid-19 cases, which set new highs as it topped 13,000 on two days in February, is not unexpected, said Health Minister Ong Ye Kung on Saturday (Feb 12).

"Omicron is highly transmissible, so reaching 15,000 to 20,000 infections or more (a day) is within our expectations.

"So far it has been staying around 10,000 for some days, which gives us some comfort," he added. There were 9,930 cases on Friday.

Noting that more positive cases could be expected over the Chinese New Year period, Mr Ong said that while infection numbers provide a sense of where Singapore is, the more important numbers are those that show the impact on healthcare capacity.

This remains relatively low, with 21 patients in intensive care and another 128 requiring oxygen.

When the Delta variant was raging towards the end of last year, there were more than 100 Covid-19 patients requiring intensive care.

Mr Ong said that although a lot of people are seeing their general practice doctors (GPs) for Covid-19, many of them are only mildly sick.

The feedback the Ministry of Health (MOH) is getting from these GPs is that people are turning up at the clinics for a variety of reasons other than needing medical care.

Some want a medical certificate for work or school, although under current rules, these are not needed.

Others do not want to pay for an antigen rapid test kit, or want to be cleared by a doctor so they could return to work, he said.

According to MOH data, only three out of 1,000 people verified to have been infected, are seriously ill. The rest either have mild symptoms, or are not sick at all.

When asked if there will be changes to current Covid-19 rules, Mr Ong said the multi-ministry task force will be making an announcement soon.

The Health Minister was speaking at the sidelines of the topping out ceremony at the Woodlands Health campus, which includes an acute hospital, community hospital and long-term care facility.

Spanning 10 blocks, Woodlands Health is expected to be completed at the end of 2023. 

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