Hospital wards ‘under pressure’: Singapore health minister

SINGAPORE (CNA) – Accident and emergency (A&E) departments and general wards in Singapore’s hospitals are coming “under pressure”, said Singaporean Health Minister Ong Ye Kung yesterday, amid a wave of COVID-19 infections.

In a Facebook post, Ong said the Ministry of Health (MoH) was encouraging younger, fully vaccinated people to recover from home.

This was because more than 98 per cent of cases have “no or mild symptoms, and tend to stay that way until they recover”, said Ong.

The MoH was also admitting patients to community care facilities instead of hospitals, and setting up more community care facilities that will be ready in the coming week, he added.

“This is so that hospital beds, A&E services go to those who need it most. Our intensive care unit (ICU) capacity is still holding up, but it is A&E and general wards that are coming under pressure,” said Ong. “Our hospitals and healthcare workers cannot be over burdened. At this point, this is the MoH’s biggest challenge and we are doing our best to solve this.”

An ambulance at the Accident and Emergency Department of Tan Tock Seng Hospital. PHOTO: CNA

Singapore has reported rising locally transmitted COVID-19 cases in recent weeks, with new local cases topping 1,000 on Saturday.

Referring to data released by the MoH earlier this week, Ong yesterday said the figures showed that the chance of someone who has been infected with COVID-19 developing severe illness “depends a lot” on age and vaccination status.

A third factor – whether the patient has underlying illnesses – was not captured in the data, he added.

According to the data, for COVID-19 cases reported between May 1 and September 16 this year, no one who was fully vaccinated and under the age of 70 was admitted to the ICU or died, said Ong.

A fully vaccinated person in their 70s has better chances of not falling very sick compared to an unvaccinated person in their 30s, said the Health Minister.

“Similarly, a fully vaccinated person in his or her 80s becomes like an unvaccinated person in his or her 40s or 50s.”