Singapore healthcare system still under pressure as hospitalised patients, ICU cases continue to rise, says MOH

MOH said that to cope with the rise in cases, it has been working with the public, community and private hospitals to set aside more beds for Covid-19 patients. — TODAY pic
MOH said that to cope with the rise in cases, it has been working with the public, community and private hospitals to set aside more beds for Covid-19 patients. — TODAY pic

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SINGAPORE, Oct 20 — The number of people infected with Covid-19 who require intensive care has continued to rise, with 80 new cases being admitted in the past two weeks despite social restrictions in place.

This is 34 more patients being admitted into the intensive care unit (ICU) compared to the previous two weeks, said the Ministry of Health today in an update on the coronavirus situation here.

MOH said that while the current measures put in place to stem infections have helped to moderate the rate of transmission, the daily case numbers are still rising and the healthcare system is still under pressure due to the latest wave of infections as the number of Covid-19 patients admitted to hospitals and treatments facilities rise in tandem with the total case numbers.

Currently, 1,738 cases, or 10 per cent of Covid-19 cases, are admitted to hospitals or the community treatment facilities because of severe symptoms or underlying conditions which require close observation.

People aged 60 and above who are not fully vaccinated make up about two-thirds of deaths and cases under intensive care, the ministry added.

While 98.6 per cent of people who come down with the disease continue to have either mild or no symptoms, MOH said a disproportionate proportion — 54.7 per cent — of the 495 cases who became severely ill in the past few days were unvaccinated, with the remainder being vaccinated individuals with co-morbidities.

“Unfortunately, the number of unvaccinated seniors above 60 years old who are infected has risen over the past few days, to about 100 a day,” said the ministry.

On the hospital capacity, MOH said there are now 1,650 isolation beds and 200 ICU beds for Covid-19 patients in public hospitals.

Eighty-nine per cent of the isolation beds have been filled, while the occupancy rate for ICU beds — which include existing Covid-19 patients who still require intensive care, newly admitted patients who need to be monitored as well as non-Covid-19 patients — stands at 67 per cent.

MOH said that to cope with the rise in cases, it has been working with the public, community and private hospitals to set aside more beds for Covid-19 patients.

In addition to the 4,200 hospital beds and beds in community treatment facilities, another 100 more can be readied to handle ICU cases at short notice, it said.

During a press briefing by the Government’s Covid-19 task force today, Health Minister Ong Ye Kung said the authorities plan to beef up manpower through redeploying former Covid-19 swab testers as patient care and healthcare assistants.

The ministry also will tap some of the 2,000 healthcare workers who have signed up under the SG Healthcare Corps initiative. Of these, more than 800 are ready for deployment, said Ong.

To further reduce the load, hospital clinical teams have also been actively referring more stable patients to community treatment facilities for further monitoring.

Patients who no longer need to be closely watched will be referred to community isolation facilities or placed on home recovery.

“The close coordination between the different facilities and teams has enabled more streamlined transfers to keep the hospitalisation numbers low,” said MOH.

MOH is also working with community hospitals to operate more beds like those in the community treatment facilities to care for old Covid-19 patients with comorbidities.

The hospitals have also reduced non-urgent and non-life-threatening care treatments to alleviate the pressure on public hospital capacity and manpower, and private hospitals have also been mobilised to attend to some non-urgent patients from public hospitals, said MOH. — TODAY

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