Singapore reports sixth death, set to scale down non-essential services

SINGAPORE (CNA) – A sixth person died from COVID-19 in Singapore early yesterday morning, its Ministry Of Health (MOH) said in a news release.

The patient was an 88-year-old Singapore permanent resident with no recent travel history to affected places, said the ministry. He had a history of heart and kidney disease, cancer and diabetes.

The man was diagnosed with COVID-19 on March 29, and admitted to the National Centre for Infectious Diseases (NCID) the following day.

He had been in the intensive care unit since March 30, but developed serious complications and died at 5.41am yesterday, said MOH.

The patient’s profile matches that of case 855, who is linked to a new cluster at Singapore Cricket Club.

As of Friday, Singapore has reported 1,114 infections, with new clusters at the Ce La Vi rooftop bar at Marina Bay Sands and a construction site at Project Glory, an integrated development at 50 Market Street.

This is the fourth death from COVID-19 reported in Singapore in a week.

On Friday, an 86-year-old Singaporean with no recent travel history to affected places died from complications due to COVID-19. The woman was the first patient linked to a cluster at Lee Ah Mooi Old Age Home at 1 Thomson Lane. The cluster is now linked to 13 cases.

On Thursday, a 68-year-old Indonesian with a history of diabetes and hypertension died of COVID-19.

Meanwhile, all essential healthcare services will continue operating even after the enhanced safe-distancing measures requiring most workplaces to be shut kick in on Tuesday, the MOH said yesterday.

All public and private acute hospitals, including offsite specialist clinics and offsite ambulatory surgical centres, as well as community hospitals, polyclinics, Public Health Preparedness Clinics (PHPCs) and renal dialysis centres will remain open.

Non-PHPC general practitioner clinics, specialist clinics, dental clinics and traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) clinics may remain open only for the delivery of essential services.

Essential services refer to those that would result in significant or rapid deterioration of the patient’s medical condition, and potentially threaten their health and well-being, said the MOH.

Non-essential services include aesthetic services, elective procedures such as cataract surgery for those in a stable condition, outpatient rehab and therapy appointments, health screenings and TCM services such as acupuncture.

“All non-essential appointments should be deferred, and any on-site staffing kept to a minimum,” the ministry said. “Where possible, services that are suitable for tele-consultation should be delivered remotely.

Home personal care will be scaled down to serve only seniors with inadequate family support, for example, where caregivers are essential workers. Home therapy – except by tele-consult – and medical escort and transport services will also be suspended.

Senior care centres, day rehab centres, psychiatric rehabilitation centres and day hospices will be closed. Selected centres will remain open to support those with inadequate family support, as well as intensive care needs. Such seniors can also be supported with home care services including meals delivery if needed, MOH said.

Supporting services such as ambulance and patient transport, blood services, laboratories and radiological services, quarantine and isolation operations and border health operations will continue.

Essential supply chains required to provide the essential healthcare services should also continue operations.

Blood donation services will remain in operation. People are encouraged to continue donating blood during this period, although they are encouraged to make appointments, MOH said.