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Old ways don’t work anymore in dealing with Covid-19: Ong Ye Kung


Singapore – Health Minister Ong Ye Kung said that the old ways of dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic don’t work anymore and that people need to act to avoid multiple doubling of daily confirmed cases.

Since Aug 23, the number of Covid-19 cases in Singapore has doubled twice. It could double up to three times more before peaking and stabilising, said Mr Ong in a virtual press conference held by the multi-ministry task force for Covid-19 on Friday (Sept 10).

“The imperative now is to quickly adjust our healthcare protocols, and that is a very, very urgent task,” said Mr Ong.

He noted that the country was no longer dealing with a small number of daily cases; hence the “old ways don’t work anymore.”

Citing other countries with high vaccination rates, Mr Ong said that Covid-19 transmission waves aren’t continuous and only last four to eight weeks.

During the rise, daily cases can double every ten days, “and I think we’ve been seeing that,” said Mr Ong.

Singapore should be prepared for four to five doubling cycles, he added.

The country is currently on the way to its third doubling cycle; therefore, cases can double from 800 to 1,600 and 1,600 to 3,200 when it peaks.

Whether or not Singapore reaches the fifth doubling cycle is up to the collective efforts of the population, said Mr Ong.

“Together, we will test extensively with the help of employers, reduce our interactions where possible, wear our masks properly and diligently, get ourselves tested when required, isolate ourselves when we are ill or when we test positive…and if we can do that, maybe we can avoid five doubling cycles, maybe we can get away with three or four before we settle down,” said Mr Ong.

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Mr Ong, who co-chairs the task force, added that the “rapid and exponential” rise in daily cases is something countries that wish to live with Covid-19 must go through before settling down and living quite normally.

The two objectives of the task force when going through the doubling cycles is to have as few deaths as possible and avoid a collapse of the hospital system.

If Singapore can do this, it can then achieve its second objective – avoid entering a long, hard lockdown, which places such as Vietnam and New South Wales are experiencing, he highlighted.

“The key to going through this experience differently from other countries…is vaccination,” said Mr Ong.

To date, 81 per cent of the population has completed their full regimen and received two doses of a Covid-19 vaccine, while 83 per cent has received at least one dose./TISG

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