Singapore will extend its Covid-19 restrictions for another month after the city-state reported 18 new deaths from the disease on Wednesday, its highest number of the pandemic.
In a news release Thursday, Singapore’s Ministry of Health said current measures would be extended to November 21, to help contain case numbers, which rose by more than 3,800 on Wednesday.
“Unfortunately, given the continuing pressures on our healthcare system, more time is needed for the situation to stabilise,” the ministry said in its statement, adding hospitals were braced for “a sustained, heavy patient load.”
“(The ministry) is doing whatever we can to support and bolster the hospitals,” the statement said.
Lawrence Wong, co-chair of Singapore’s Covid-19 taskforce, said Wednesday medical staff were “stretched and fatigued.”
“At the current situation, we face considerable risk of the healthcare system being overwhelmed,” he added.
Singapore had previously announced in June it would be abandoning its zero-Covid strategy in favor of a new plan to live with the virus. The shift was possible thanks to the country’s high vaccination rates, which are among the best in the world.
As of October 19, 84% of Singapore’s population had been fully vaccinated against Covid-19, and 85% had received at least one dose, according to the Ministry of Health.
However, in late September, Singapore was forced to postpone its relaxation of restrictions amid a surge of cases caused by the highly contagious Delta variant.
The new curbs, known as the “Stabilisation Phase”, came into effect on September 27 and were originally scheduled to end October 24. Under these measures, social gatherings are capped to a maximum of two, and workers are encouraged to stay at home.
The extended restrictions will be reviewed at the two-week mark, the Ministry of Health said, and will be adjusted based on the Covid-19 community situation.
Over the past 28 days, 98.7% of local infected cases were asymptomatic or had mild symptoms, and just 0.1% had to go into intensive care (ICU), the news release said.
Of the 3,862 new coronavirus infections identified Wednesday, 630 were linked to migrant worker dormitories, the ministry said. The remaining cases were almost entirely among the local community.
Singapore’s overall death toll from the pandemic now stands at 264, the ministry said.
The ministry also warned there were still a high number of infections among unvaccinated citizens over age 60.
“Over the past 5 days, the number of infections amongst this group averaged 127 per day”, the ministry said, adding senior citizens over 60 accounted for two-thirds of the total patients in ICU.