Number of people with severe Covid-19 infection on the rise
The number of Covid-19 patients here in intensive care units (ICUs) or requiring oxygen supplementation has tripled over the last two weeks, rising from eight on July 15 to 25 on Wednesday, with experts warning the number is likely to grow.
Professor Dale Fisher, senior consultant at the National University Hospital's Division of Infectious Diseases, said there has been an increase in the number of unvaccinated people contracting the disease, after almost 1,000 new cases of Covid-19 were reported in the last week.
"Over that week, the number of unvaccinated cases in the older age groups has more than doubled, so I feel we can expect the numbers of new severe cases to increase significantly," he said.
But he added that the rise should still be "well within" the healthcare system's capabilities.
Health Minister Ong Ye Kung said on Wednesday that Singapore can open up about 1,000 ICU beds for critically ill Covid-19 patients.
Professor of medicine Paul Tambyah at the National University of Singapore (NUS) Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, said that with more than half the population here fully vaccinated, he anticipates one or two new severe cases a day if infections remain in the hundreds.
Two teams from the NUS Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health have been carrying out modelling to predict which way the numbers might go - one led by Dr Hannah Clapham, an assistant professor at the school, and another by Associate Professor Alex Cook, who is vice-dean of research at the school.
Prof Cook noted that vaccine uptake in the older age groups, who are at greatest risk, has risen to about 75 per cent.
Taking into account this statistic, as well as the effectiveness of the vaccines in preventing severe disease, the teams predicted that the risk of someone ending up in the ICU with Covid-19 has fallen from around 2 per cent to about 0.2 per cent.
Prof Teo Yik Ying, dean of the Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health, added: "If present or new clusters emerge in areas frequented by the elderly or those with underlying medical conditions, then when these people are exposed and infected, that is when we start to see more medical complications arise."
Prof Teo said Singapore already has the capacity to handle a slight increase in severe cases.