Singapore’s bus depot clusters rise, serious virus cases stay low

SINGAPORE: Singapore’s count of daily coronavirus cases remained above 100 for the seventh consecutive day amid a surge in clusters at bus depots, testing its resolve to use one of the world’s best vaccination rates to continue reopening the economy.

The city state reported 147 new cases of locally transmitted Covid-19 infections yesterday, according to the data released by the health ministry, making it the seventh straight day where cases remained above 100.

That level, about 26 cases per million people, is high for Singapore though well below levels seen in neighbouring countries like Malaysia and Thailand.

Adding to the rise in recent days are Covid clusters that have been found at eight local bus depots, totalling 229 cases, according to health ministry data compiled by Bloomberg.

Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in a speech on Sunday said it’s no longer possible to reduce Covid-19 cases to zero, even if the country locks down for a long time, adding that the country will reopen “cautiously and progressively”.

Lee said that while cases have risen in recent days, the number of “seriously ill” cases is stable.

“It is important to maintain this, so that we can continue to ease up, and especially to reconnect Singapore with the rest of the world.”

Serious cases stay low

Just 19 people in Singapore have serious illness requiring oxygen supplementation, according to health ministry data, while five cases are in critical condition.

Most of the 441 cases in area hospitals are people who are “well and under observation”, the ministry said.

About 80% of Singapore’s population is fully vaccinated, the highest proportion of any country with more than 1 million people according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

There’s evidence the mass vaccination rate is reducing the strain on hospitals.

Though the fully unvaccinated represent just 17% of the population, they account for more than half of serious cases in the city state.

More than 9% of the unvaccinated people who contracted Covid in Singapore over the last month became severely ill, requiring oxygen, intensive care treatment, or ultimately dying.

Vaccination helps limit chances of getting infected, and for those who do, the rate of serious cases plummeted to just 1.3%.

Sinopharm roll-out

Singapore this wek launched another Covid-19 vaccine, the Straits Times reported, with private health care providers seeing high demand for jabs from Chinese vaccine maker Sinopharm.

Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines are the city state’s primary vaccines, and account for nearly 8.7 million doses administered.

Vaccines approved under the World Health Organization’s emergency use listing like Sinovac, and now Sinopharm, are available under a special access route via private medical providers.

About 166,000 doses of those have been provided in Singapore so far, the ministry said.

IHH Healthcare Singapore, which operates hospitals including Gleneagles and Mount Elizabeth, said demand for its Sinopharm jabs was oversubscribed, while Raffles Medical and other private healthcare providers also reported strong demand, according to the Straits Times.

Singapore also plans to allow certain groups of non-resident foreign sea crew to be vaccinated, according to a joint statement from four government bodies yesterday.


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