Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Singapore tells unvaccinated to stay home as cases surge

As vaccination rates rise, the government has said it will look beyond case numbers at severity of illnesses to decide on further virus measures.

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Singapore’s health ministry on Sunday “strongly” advised unvaccinated individuals, especially the elderly, to stay home as much as possible over the next few weeks, citing rising concerns about the risks of community spread of Covid-19, Reuters is reporting.

The country reported 88 new locally transmitted coronavirus cases yesterday, the highest daily toll since August last year, driven by growing clusters of infections linked to karaoke bars and a fishery port.

Though Singapore’s daily cases are only a fraction of the number being reported among its neighbours, the jump in infections is a setback for the Asian business hub, which has successfully contained its earlier outbreaks so well that on July 10, it had reported no new cases.

As a precaution, authorities yesterday shut fresh fish and seafood stalls in markets across the city state as it tested fishmongers for Covid-19.

“We are concerned that there remain cryptic transmission chains which might continue to spread within our community. The porous nature of wet markets makes contact tracing and isolation less straightforward,” the health ministry said in a statement late yesterday.

About 73% of Singapore’s nearly six million population has received the first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, but the government is pushing to get more of the elderly vaccinated, as those above 70 years of age have the lowest take-up rates at about 71%.

The rising number of infections prompted the city-state to tighten some restrictions on social gatherings from today just a week after easing them.

However, it has more lenient rules for those who have been vaccinated.

As Singapore’s vaccination rates rise and it prepares to live with the virus, the government has said it will look beyond case numbers at severity of illnesses to decide on further virus measures.

Of the 243 people with Covid-19 currently in hospital, five had serious illness requiring oxygen supplementation, and one was in a critical condition in the ICU.

The health ministry said that those who have unvaccinated elderly at home should avoid crowded places or extensive social interactions, even if they are already vaccinated, CNA is reporting.

“Remember vaccinated persons can still get infected, although typically with very mild symptoms,” Finance Minister Lawrence Wong, co-chair of the Covid-19 multi-ministry task force, said in a Facebook post.

“So if you are not careful, you may inadvertently bring the virus home to the seniors living with you.”

Seniors who are yet to get vaccinated were advised to do so as soon as possible.

Wong urged the public to continue doing their part when going out, including practising safe distancing and good personal hygiene.

“By minimising your movement and social interactions, you will reduce the risk of catching the virus and developing severe illness. Please keep taking all of these precautions until you are fully vaccinated,” he said.

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