Singapore could see 5,000 daily Covid-19 cases by mid-Oct, but most will have no or mild symptoms

Singapore is preparing to deal with 5,000 coronavirus cases a day.
Singapore is preparing to deal with 5,000 coronavirus cases a day.ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

SINGAPORE - Singapore could see Covid-19 cases hit 5,000 a day in two weeks, although the vast majority of people - 98 per cent - will have mild or no symptoms, especially if they are vaccinated.

This comes as the authorities do a major review of all healthcare protocols to help make them simpler and easier to understand, as the nation adjusts to living with the virus.

But for those who could fall more seriously ill, the country is increasing the number of beds available for higher-risk patients who require close observation outside hospitals.

Over the past week, 580 beds have been set up across four Covid-19 treatment facilities. The Ministry of Health (MOH) plans to ramp this up to 3,700 beds across nine facilities by the end of October.

This is the area in which Singapore is facing the "biggest crunch", Health Minister Ong Ye Kung said at a press conference on Saturday (Oct 2) by the multi-ministerial task force tackling the pandemic.

He added that many patients who do not require hospital care are currently admitted to hospital because the country currently lacks Covid-19 treatment facility beds.

Mr Ong also acknowledged that Singapore's various testing, isolation and other healthcare protocols - which are often referred to by acronyms - are complex and come across sounding like "alphabet soup".

The multi-ministerial task force will be reviewing these in a holistic manner to come up with protocols that are easier to understand and remember, he said.

"Because if people don't understand, they can't do their part to exercise personal responsibility, much less help others," Mr Ong added.

"It also also contributes to an overall apprehension that Covid is a very serious disease, when actually for vaccinated people it has become a mild disease."

At present, 56 per cent of patients recover at home - although this figure is expected to go up in the coming weeks.

An additional 6 per cent cannot self-isolate in their homes, and are usually sent to community care facilities to recuperate, while another 13 per cent - for instance, migrant workers - are recovering in other facilities.

This means about three-quarters of all Covid-19 patients are recovering from the illness without needing to be admitted to hospital, said Singapore's director of medical services, Associate Professor Kenneth Mak, at the press conference.

Facilities aside, healthcare personnel are critical too, with more trained people being encouraged to join the volunteer SG healthcare corps to be part of this effort.

Singapore tightened restrictions on social gatherings on Monday, and reported nearly 3,000 Covid-19 cases on Friday.

The full effect of these tightened rules has not yet been seen, MOH said in a statement.

"Nevertheless, while the daily number of cases continues to rise, the rate of increase appears to have slowed down slightly," it said, adding that the time taken for cases to double has lengthened slightly from eight to 10 days.

It added that the expert committee on Covid-19 vaccination is considering recommending booster jabs to more people, including healthcare workers, front-line workers and people in vulnerable settings.

This is likely to take place, MOH said, adding that it stands "fully ready" to support any recommendation made by the committee on this front.