7 in 10 in S'pore infected with Covid-19, new wave might be coming end of 2022

The next wave will likely comprise many reinfections, said Minister for Health Ong Ye Kung.

Andrew Koay | August 24, 2022, 05:05 PM

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About 70 per cent of Singapore's population has been infected with Covid-19, according to the latest serology study by the Ministry of Health.

However, this means that the next big wave — possibly caused by a new variant of concern — will likely comprise of many reinfections, said Minister for Health Ong Ye Kung at Aug. 24's Multi-Ministry Taskforce press conference.

As a result, Singapore was monitoring reinfection numbers closely, as an indication of when the next Covid-19 wave would arrive.

"So far, our data shows that after an infection, the probability of being infected again eight months later is still low," said Ong, adding that it was about 5 per cent that of an individual who had yet to experience infection.

"Nevertheless, reinfections are increasing as a proportion of total daily cases."

Reinfections now make up about 5.5 per cent of cases in Singapore; they previously accounted for 3 per cent.

The next wave

Speaking on when Singapore might next experience a dramatic uptick in Covid-19 infections, Ong pointed to the U.S., UK, and Europe, where preparations were being made for a winter wave at the end of the year.

"Our wave driven by BA.5 has just subsided, which will give us good protection for a possible year-end wave," he said.

Yet, Singapore should still prepare for the wave; "it may even be a new VOC, with significant immunity escape," explained Ong.

Part of the preparations, Ong said, was the introduction of Covid-19 Treatment Facilities (CTF) that have eased the load on hospitals.

Lower-risk patients are typically treated at CTFs, allowing hospitals to focus their resources on tending to Covid-19 patients who are seriously ill.

The Health Minister also spoke on a new category of facilities — the Transitional Care Facilities (TCF).

Describing them as a "dual-use facility", Ong said TCFs could be used in the event of a surge as CTF.

"However, as in the recent infection wave — where we noticed that those who are warded are not so much Covid-19 patients, but patients with chronic diseases — then we use the TCF as a step-down care facility for non-Covid 19 patients."

This would include those staying in hospital and waiting for nursing home placements.

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