September 9, 2021
Singapore is shifting the focus of its daily reports to hospitalizations to turn attention to its medical capacity alongside plans to manage the virus as endemic, as the country’s daily count of COVID cases in the local community rose to the highest it’s ever been.
At 81%, Singapore has the best vaccination rate in the world among countries of more than 1 million people, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
Yet daily cases — the vast majority of which are mild or asymptomatic — are on the rise.
There are signs that Singapore’s mass vaccination is holding down serious cases. While the overall number of daily local cases has doubled in the past week to 347, the number of serious cases requiring supplemental oxygen or intensive care is about the same as last week.
Singapore is changing the way it reports the COVID-19 situation. The Ministry of Health is now leading its daily report with data on serious cases in a shift that focuses attention on its hospital capacity instead of the rising number of cases.
The city-state will no longer report the number of linked and unlinked cases “as this is no longer as relevant as before, given our current strategy of living with COVID-19,” the ministry said in a statement accompanying its daily update, which will also be cut to once instead of twice a day from Thursday.
“We are now in a very different stage of our battle against COVID-19,” the health ministry said. The revamped reports will “reflect the salient issues” such as whether hospital capacity is getting overwhelmed, it said.
While the daily report doesn’t list Singapore’s system-wide capacity, previous statements suggest the city-state isn’t anywhere close to its limits. For example, Health Minister Ong Ye Kung in July said as many as 1,000 ICU beds could be made available to COVID-19 patients if needed. Just six are in ICU now. At its peak, in April of 2020, there were as many as 32 people in ICU.
Singapore is also looking to expand its health care capacity beyond critical care. The government has space for more than 5,500 COVID-positive people with mild or no visible symptoms in community care facilities, which is about 2,000 more beds than the total number of people in Singapore who got COVID over the last month. Additionally, the government is piloting a program that would allow some mildly ill patients to recover at home.