SINGAPORE (AFP) – Singapore said Thursday that its founding leader Lee Kuan Yew is still on life support in hospital and being treated with antibiotics for severe pneumonia, after quashing rumours the 91-year-old had died.
“He remains sedated and on mechanical ventilation,” the Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement. “His doctors have restarted him on antibiotics, and are continuing to monitor him closely.”
The update came after state-linked local media and government officials took to social media late Wednesday to debunk widespread rumours that the city-state’s patriarch had died.
Lee, who is widely credited with transforming Singapore from an economic backwater to a rich economy in just over three decades, was brought to the Singapore General Hospital on February 5 with severe pneumonia.
In general, a fresh dose of antibiotics and a prolonged reliance on mechanical ventilation are indications that the pneumonia is persisting, doctors said.
In the case of pneumonia, machine-assisted breathing – commonly termed as life support – “can be used to help the body recover and rest the respiratory muscles”, Dr Leong Choon
Kit, a local general practitioner, told AFP.
Lee, who co-founded the People’s Action Party (PAP) which has governed Singapore uninterrupted since 1959, has visibly slowed since his wife of 63 years Kwa Geok Choo died in 2010, and has been in frail health.
His last high-profile public appearance was in November, when he received a standing ovation at the 60th anniversary of the founding of the PAP.