Next COVID-19 infection wave expected to reach Singapore in July or August: Minister Ong Ye Kung

This is due to the fifth wave of COVID-19 in South Africa, driven by the latest Omicron sub-variants, BA.4. and BA.5.

Harshiyne Maran

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Published: 3 June 2022, 3:31 PM

The next COVID-19 infection wave is expected to hit Singapore in July or August, said Minister of Health Ong Ye Kung on Thursday (Jun 2)

The comment was made at the Ministry of Health’s (MOH) work plan seminar, in regards to the future of the COVID-19 situation in Singapore.

The infection wave is expected to be driven by the Omicron sub-variants, BA.4. and BA.5., that were first detected in South Africa in January this year. 

It will most likely come to Asia “in a matter of months”, said Mr Ong.

However the good news, said Mr Ong, is that the wave seems to be short-lived. Cases in South Africa hit a peak that was one third of the original Omicron BA.1 wave, and the country also did not experience a sharp rise in terms of hospitalisation and death rates during its fifth wave. 

While Singapore has defences such as indoor mask-wearing and high vaccination coverage in place, the country must not grow complacent against the situation, he cautioned.

“We must make sure that regardless of whatever healthcare settings that we are in, we must be COVID-19 ready,” Mr Ong said.

He then highlighted three strategies the healthcare system will implement to prepare for the latest wave.

First, hospitals have begun to provide home care services to long-term patients, in order to free up the bed space in hospitals to cater to pressures on capacity when the new infection wave hits.

Next, the COVID-19 Treatment Facilities (CTFs) need to shift towards prioritising patients who don’t require acute care. 

As the facilities were initially dedicated to caring for elderly patients, it now requires a shift in order to accomodate more patients by consolidating beds and manpower within the facilities. 

Lastly, there must be an emphasis on convincing all eligible seniors aged 60 and above to take their booster shots if they have not done so. 

Currently, 12 per cent of seniors are not fully vaccinated as they have not taken their booster shots.

This renders them as the most vulnerable group when the new wave hits, and could lead to a risk of them being admitted to Intensive Care Unit (ICU) wards if they were to be infected. 

“If we do all this, I believe we can ride through the BA.4, BA.5 waves,” said Mr Ong.

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