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Singapore sees Covid uptick, face mask in public advisory return


In the first week of this month, between December 3 to December 9, the estimated number of Covid-19 cases rose to 56,043 in Singapore. In light of the fresh surge in coronavirus cases, the Ministry of Health (MOH) in Singapore advised mask usage in crowded places, particularly indoors, and urged travellers to adopt precautions such as mask-wearing at airports and avoiding poorly ventilated crowded areas.

In its briefing on December 15, the health ministry said the Covid cases in the week of 3 to 9 December 2023 rose to 56,043, compared to 32,035 in the previous week.

The average daily Covid hospitalisations rose to 350 from 225 the week before, and the average daily Intensive Care Unit (ICU) cases increased to nine, compared to four in the previous week.

The Singapore government said the dominant strain causing these infections is identified as JN.1, a sublineage of BA.2.86. “Based on the available international and local data, there is currently no clear indication that BA.2.86 or JN.1 are more transmissible or cause more severe disease than other circulating variants,” it said.

Given the uptick in Covid cases, Singapore implemented additional measures to safeguard healthcare capacity. These include:

  • The health ministry is collaborating with public hospitals for contingency planning. This includes bolstering manpower and deferring non-urgent elective procedures. Step-down facilities such as Transitional Care Facilities and alternative care models like Mobile Inpatient Care@Home are being leveraged to optimise patient care.
  • In anticipation of increased demand, the health ministry opened the second Covid-19 Treatment Facility (CTF) at Singapore EXPO Hall 10.
  • The public has been urged to stay home if experiencing acute respiratory infection symptoms, wear masks, minimise social interactions, and avoid crowded places. The health ministry also encouraged mask usage in crowded places and at airports.
  • The health ministry also highlighted the crucial role of vaccination and its effectiveness in preventing severe illness.