SINGAPORE — Singapore will soon reach more than 1,000 daily COVID-19 cases, even as it prepares to roll out its vaccine booster programme next Tuesday (14 September).
The Ministry of Health (MOH) said in a media release on Friday (10 September) that the number of daily cases has been rising over the past fortnight, from an average of 76 cases per day a fortnight ago, to 288 cases per day in the past week.
It added that, at the current trajectory, it is likely that Singapore will soon reach more than 1,000 daily cases, detected early through intensified testing.
Speaking at a multi-ministry taskforce (MTF) media conference on Friday, Minister of Finance and MTF co-chairman Lawrence Wong said, "We knew all along, and we have said so before, that once we reopen and resume activities, we will experience a new wave of infection. All countries that open up have had to deal with such ways.
"For us, it is happening faster than we had expected. It's also the first time since our opening that we are facing such a new exponential wave of infection in our community.
"Very soon we will reach 1,000 new cases a day. And in a few weeks' time we will probably get to 2,000 new cases a day."
MOH said that the number of serious cases remains low for now. As of Thursday, there are 26 cases of serious illness requiring oxygen supplementation, and seven in critical condition in the intensive care unit (ICU).
"There continues to be strong evidence that vaccination is protective against severe illness. Among fully vaccinated cases in the past 28 days, 99.2 per cent were asymptomatic or had mild symptoms. Among unvaccinated and partially vaccinated individuals, 95.1 per cent were asymptomatic or had mild symptoms," the ministry said.
"Nevertheless, we are still early in this new wave of transmission and we need to continue to monitor the situation and remain vigilant."
Vaccination booster programme for immunocompromised, seniors aged 60 and above
Singapore's vaccine booster programme will begin from next Tuesday, targeting those who are immunocompromised, as well as to seniors aged 60 years and above.
MOH said that it will progressively invite seniors and residents of aged-care facilities who have completed their two-dose vaccination regimen at least six months ago to receive their booster dose of a Pandemic Special Access Route mRNA vaccine.
An SMS with a personalised booking link will be sent to their mobile number for them to book a new appointment.
Those who are moderately to severely immunocompromised and have completed their two doses of the mRNA vaccines are encouraged to receive a third dose of any mRNA vaccine two months after their second dose. However, they should consult their treating specialist prior to receiving their third dose.
Eligible individuals may thereafter receive the vaccination in a hospital or specialist outpatient clinic of their treating specialist, if they are offering vaccinations. Alternatively, they may obtain a referral form by their treating specialist, and walk into any vaccination centre for their third dose.
"We will be rolling out the vaccine booster programme...to maintain the high level of vaccine protection. These are necessary steps to take as we continue our journey to re-open our society and community." MOH said in its media release.
"We seek Singaporeans’ understanding and support during this period so that we can ensure as safe a re-opening as possible."
Expanding home recovery pilot scheme
From next Wednesday, MOH will also expand its home recovery pilot scheme, which allows fully-vaccinated individuals who were infected with COVID-19 to recover from home, provided that they can be isolated from the rest of their household.
The scheme will be extended progressively to individuals up to 50 years old who have no significant co-morbidities or underlying illnesses. This is because these individuals are generally well with no or mild symptoms and are able to self-care at home.
Parents will also be allowed and encouraged to bring their infected children home, if they are at least five years old and do not have co-morbidities or underlying illnesses. For these children, they will first be assessed by the hospital to be clinically fit for home recovery, before sending them back home for their recovery journey.
MOH said that, since the home recovery scheme began on 30 August, 21 individuals were enrolled into the scheme, with nine of them discharged as of Thursday, and the rest of them recovering well.
The ministry has also shortened the isolation period for fully-vaccinated COVID-19 cases to as early as seven days into their illness, if they have undetectable or very low viral loads. Unvaccinated persons, however, will continue to be discharged from 14 days into their illness.
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