COVID: Don’t focus too much on infection numbers, says health minister

Singapore’s Health Minister Ong Ye Kung in parliament July 26. Photo: MCI/YouTube
Singapore’s Health Minister Ong Ye Kung in parliament July 26. Photo: MCI/YouTube

Singaporeans, it’s time we pay less attention to the daily COVID-19 numbers and focus more on the number of people who have actually fallen physically ill due to the coronavirus. 

That’s the message by Singapore’s Health Minister Ong Ye Kung in Parliament today, noting that the surge in infection numbers doesn’t necessarily lead to severe illnesses or deaths since more people were getting vaccinated. Since Singapore is on the road to treating COVID-19 as endemic, Ong said that Singaporeans should not focus so much on the daily number of reported cases and perhaps look at the number of people in severe cases instead. 

“The first I think is a shift away from always focusing on the infection numbers. We used to get a shock when we see high daily numbers, because this will mean a week or two from then we will see more severe illnesses and deaths,” Ong said today. “As we know that with vaccinations, high infection numbers would not necessarily mean more sickness and deaths.”

Out of the more than 100 daily cases in the past week, only 14 of them involved severe illnesses and do “not threaten our hospital capacity,” Ong added. He also noted that the perception is already starting to shift among Singaporeans.

The COVID-19 task force also revealed updates on their latest response to the pandemic, which will also include more relaxed measures for vaccinated Singaporeans and some changes to healthcare protocols.

Vaccinated individuals aged 45 to 59 who have been infected will be taken to community care facilities instead of directly to hospitals. Length of hospital and facility stays will be shortened while those who have completed vaccination can also isolate themselves at home.

The Health Ministry stopped publishing detailed information of infected persons in June, choosing to focus on informing the public about its vaccination progress and the number of people in severe cases. 

About half of Singaporeans have completed their mRNA vaccination, bringing the country closer to reaching its 75% target by National Day on Aug. 9. 

The nation yesterday reported 125 new COVID-19 cases mainly linked to the latest outbreak center Jurong Fishery Port. This brings Singapore’s total tally to 64,179 cases and 37 deaths.

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