New Covid-19 wave hits S'pore, no plans to impose social restrictions: Ong Ye Kung

2,000 daily cases in the past two weeks.

Khine Zin Htet | October 06, 2023, 08:02 PM



Singapore is currently experiencing another Covid-19 infection wave, said Health Minister Ong Ye Kung on Oct. 6

As such, more people are expected to fall sick and be hospitalised in the coming weeks.

Ong was speaking at the official opening of the Stepping Stones Rehabilitation Centre and Serenity Centre at the Institute of Mental Health, CNA reported.

No plans for restrictions

The estimated cases per day has risen from about 1,000 three weeks ago to 2,000 for the past two weeks, Ong noted.

However, as with the last wave, which occured from March to April, there are no plans to impose any social restrictions.

He added that the cases mostly consist of two descendants of the XBB Omicron variant — the EG.5 and its sub-lineage HK.3.

"Together, they account for over 75 per cent of cases now," Ong said.

He added:

"We will treat this as an endemic disease, which is in line with our strategy, and live with it.

After all, there has been no evidence to suggest that the new variants are more likely to lead to severe illness compared to previous variants."

Warned against lowering guards on Covid-19

Nevertheless, Singapore should not lower its guard against Covid-19.

The minister pointed out that while current vaccines have proven to work well even with against Covid-19 variants, the protection will nevertheless wane over time.

He stressed that the virus has not become milder since the pandemic crisis.

"It is us who have gotten stronger and more resilient, and that is because of vaccinations as well as safe recovery from infections," he said.

Ong also cited the findings of a Ministry of Health (MOH) study, which highlighted the severe illness rates documented during Singapore's last infection surge in April.

Individuals considered "least protected" — who have neither protection nor documented infection — were shown to be about five times more susceptible to severe illness when infected with Covid-19 as compared to those considered "best protected", the study showed.

"Best protected" individuals are those who have received a minimum of three mRNA shots and experienced a natural infection within the past year.

However, individuals who are well-protected with three mRNA shots plus an infection, but who have acquired these more than 12 months ago, have a severe illness incidence rate of about 50 per 100,000 population — the same as the "least protected" group.

"This is a clear indication that protection wanes," Ong explained. "And it happens at around the 12-month interval, based on our study."

He advised seniors and vulnerable individuals to take necessary precautions like wearing a mask in public and taking vaccination shots at least once a year.

Keeping their vaccinations up to date will allow them to "recover quite uneventfully" if they get infected, he added.

"The infection will give you protection against severe illness if you encounter the virus in the future. Before this protection wanes, if you take another jab, the protection gets renewed again," he said according to ST.

"That is why MOH continues to offer COVID-19 vaccinations for free at our various vaccination centres."

Top photo from shawnanggg via Unsplash