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Singapore Urges Mask-Wearing as Covid-19 Cases Surge; Majority of Cases are JN.1 Variant – News18

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Last Updated: December 18, 2023, 09:05 IST

Office workers go for lunch at the central business district on the first day free of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) restrictions, in Singapore, April 26, 2022. (Reuters File Photo)

Office workers go for lunch at the central business district on the first day free of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) restrictions, in Singapore, April 26, 2022. (Reuters File Photo)

Singapore reports a surge in Covid-19 cases, urging mask-wearing in crowded places. Ministry of Health advises caution

Singapore has “strongly” encouraged people to wear a face mask in crowded places amid a significant rise in Covid-19 cases. This comes after the estimated number of Covid-19 cases from December 3 to 9 increased to 56,043, a 75 percent jump compared with 32,035 cases in the previous week.

The average daily Covid-19 hospitalisations rose from 225 to 350, the Ministry of Health (MOH) said on Friday. It added that the average daily cases in the intensive care unit rose from four to nine. The vast majority of cases are infected by the JN.1 variant, a sublineage of BA.2.86.

“Based on the available international and local data, there is currently no clear indication that BA.2.86 or JN.1 are more transmissible or cause more severe disease than other circulating variants,” the MOH said in a media release. Urging the public to exercise personal and social responsibility, the ministry said people who are unwell with acute respiratory infection symptoms should stay at home and avoid contact with others.

‘Seek medical treatment’

The Singapore government said that those who are travelling should wear a mask at the airport, purchase travel insurance and avoid crowded areas with poor ventilation. “We urge the public to seek medical treatment at a hospital’s emergency department only for serious or life-threatening emergencies,” stressed the ministry.

“This will preserve our hospital capacity for patients who truly need acute hospital care and allow those with severe illness to receive timely treatment,” the MOH said. The Health Ministry said it has been working with public hospitals for contingency planning, such as ensuring adequate manpower and deferring non-urgent elective surgeries to maximise bed capacity for urgent cases in need of acute care.

“To preserve our healthcare capacity, MOH has been working with public hospitals for contingency planning, including ensuring adequate manpower and deferring of non-urgent electives to maximise bed capacity for urgent cases in need of acute care,” the ministry said. In the week that ended December 9, twenty-three Covid-19 patients were admitted to intensive care units (ICUs), up from nine the previous week, and the highest on a weekly basis for the year. A total of 763 patients were hospitalised with the virus.

MOH said travellers should take precautions such as wearing a mask at the airport, buying travel insurance in case they need medical care overseas and avoiding crowded areas with poor ventilation. Health Minister Ong Ye Kung said on December 13 that the healthcare impact of the latest spike in numbers is low, with fewer than 10 cases in ICUs at any one time. Although more than 560 Covid patients were hospitalised on December 13, it is a fraction of the 1,726 at the peak of the pandemic. In the week of December 3 to 9, polyclinics saw 3,590 acute upper respiratory infections a day up from 2,970 a day the previous week.

(With agency inputs)



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