If you believe that COVID-19 is no longer a concern and that the world is returning to normal after years of the pandemic, it’s time to take precautions for your health again.
Singapore has recently seen a significant rise in COVID-19 infections, as reported by the Ministry of Health (MOH) on Saturday (2 December 2023).
In the week of 19 November 2023 to 25 November 2023, the estimated number of COVID-19 infections doubled, reaching 22,094, compared to the previous week’s count of 10,726.
The ministry also noted that while this increase in infections is concerning, the average daily hospitalisations and intensive care unit cases due to COVID-19 have remained relatively stable.
Rise in Travel Leads to Spike in COVID-19 Cases
According to MOH, the recent surge in infections may be attributed to various factors, including the spike in travelling during the year-end season and a decline in population immunity.
The subvariants EG.5 and its sub-lineage HK.3 continue to dominate the COVID-19 landscape in Singapore, constituting more than 70% of the cases that have been identified.
MOH has emphasised that, as of now, there is no evidence suggesting that these predominant subvariants are inherently more transmissible or associated with more severe illness when compared to other circulating variants.
Singapore Maintains Steady Respiratory Illness Rates Amid Surge in Northern Hemisphere
The ministry also identified that there has been an uptick in respiratory illnesses typically observed in northern hemisphere countries during winter. They stated that the overall occurrence of respiratory illnesses in Singapore has shown stability in the past month.
Furthermore, the MOH emphasised that no evidence points to an uptick in severe respiratory illnesses, even among children.
On a different note, China has reported an increase in cases of respiratory illnesses, particularly among children and adolescents.
On 24 November 2023, China called for heightened vigilance as a surge in respiratory illnesses affected schools and hospitals, likely stemming from various circulating respiratory pathogens.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), these pathogens, including influenza, RSV, Mycoplasma pneumoniae, and adenovirus, are not uncommon.
The global health authority also noted that an upward trend in such illnesses during the winter is not unexpected.
As reported by the WHO, Chinese authorities have not identified any “unusual or novel pathogens” in the country’s northern regions.
In line with this, MOH emphasised that the WHO has consistently acknowledged the anticipated increase in respiratory illnesses during the winter season.
As a precautionary measure, MOH advised the public to ensure they are up-to-date with their COVID-19 vaccinations.
The ministry recommends an additional vaccine dose about one year after their last dose for individuals aged 60 and above, medically vulnerable individuals, and residents of aged-care facilities.
In addition, the ministry encourages those six months and older to consider receiving the supplementary COVID-19 vaccine dose, with a special emphasis on healthcare workers and caregivers of vulnerable individuals.
These additional doses are readily available at various locations, including joint testing and vaccination centres, Public Health Preparedness Clinics, and selected polyclinics.
All of these locations offer supplementary doses free of charge.
Regulations from the Ministry of Health
Furthermore, the ministry advises the public to uphold good personal hygiene and take necessary precautions when travelling.
Individuals who are unwell should wear a mask and minimise both work and social interactions.
The ministry assured the public that it remains vigilant and is closely monitoring global and local situations.
Although not required by the current COVID-19 regulations, the MOH will uphold the practice of wearing a mask for visitors, healthcare staff, and patients in healthcare and residential care settings, especially in areas where there is direct interaction with patients and within indoor patient-facing spaces.
If you need to go out in public while experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, it’s crucial to act responsibly to prevent infecting others.
This means wearing a mask, minimising social interactions, avoiding crowded places, refraining from visits to vulnerable settings like hospitals and nursing homes, and avoiding contact with susceptible individuals, such as the elderly.
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