Singapore Health Minister Ong Ye Kung on the recent spate of COVID-19-related deaths

Singapore Health Minister Ong Ye Kung on the recent spate of COVID-19-related deaths

there has been concern about the recent spate of kovite 19 related deaths in fact that was what the mtf we were very concerned about when the first when the jfp the jurong fishery port cluster first broke out and then spread to different wet markets around singapore so that cluster now comprises more than one thousand people including many unvaccinated seniors so we look at the numbers every day when you look at our press release we show you the icu numbers which is a stock figure the number of patients in icu for that day but we took a look at the flow figures so over the last 21 days that is 29 july to the 18th of august we had eight deaths seven of whom were unvaccinated seniors so in hindsight it was a correct decision to throttle back to phase two h a when the jurong fishery pod cluster first broke up fortunately we did that otherwise i think there will be many more deaths so that move i think saved many lives so the positive news now when we look at the flow numbers of icus is that admissions to icu is on the downward trend the cases come down more people get vaccinated we see that emissions into icu is coming down so the last 21 days all together there were 19 admissions into icu so the first week there were nine second week there was seven and the third week which is the past one week there were three so so it’s coming down steadily and let’s hope we can keep that number down to a minimum as more people get vaccinated now let me move on to the second topic which is vaccinations as of 17 august 77 of our population have completed their full regimen 82 percent have received at least one dose that is quite significant which means sometime in september we will have 82 percent of our population fully vaccinated and if we and this 82 includes the children under 12 who are not eligible so if we just take into account of eligible persons in the denominator almost 90 percent of our eligible population will be fully vaccinated which is quite remarkable and i really want to thank everyone for stepping forward to protect yourself your family as well as to protect others and we have made significant progress in vaccinating seniors by early september 89 of our seniors age 60 and above will have received two doses of vaccines on this note i’d like to thank everyone who has answered my call for more volunteers to help out with the home vaccination scheme for homebound seniors so since 6 august which is when i put up a facebook post to call for volunteers about 200 doctors and nurses have signed up with the sg health corps healthcare corps so as a result we used to have 11 home vaccination teams now we can increase it to 33 three times so hopefully that will bring down the waiting times significantly and i really thank the volunteers for stepping forward with a high vaccination rate our vaccine with a current high vaccination rate our vaccine operation is increasingly moving to a retail mode that means going out through the mobile teams to the home vaccination teams and the overall vaccination numbers have fallen to around 20 000 a day and that is a quarter of what we used to do at the peak which was 80 000 a day so we will progressively consolidate the vaccination centers to fuel reduce the number of vaccination centers so residents you will get your community club facilities back shortly but we still need to keep a good number of vaccination centers operating for three purposes one to vaccinate the rest of the population that has not been vaccinated two after we have properly studied the safety and efficacy aspects the vaccination of children below 12 which should start sometime in early 2022 and the third is to administer boosters now let’s talk about booster shots israel has started amidst administering boosters to their seniors and vulnerable persons uk germany and france have announced that they will start in september the uscdc has just recommended booster shots after eight months from the second dose we will very likely have to start a booster exercise and these countries started vaccinations earlier than us and we therefore now have the advantage of observing them and learning from their experiences our expert committee ec19v is actively working on our booster program the chairman is professor benjamin ong and he just briefed me and he said there are two key things we need to find out and learn from the other countries that have started it before they finalize their recommendations what are these two things the first is the incidence of adverse reactions would it be as slow as the first and second dose or higher and if it’s higher what are the steps that we can take to mitigate or remove the risk that’s number one number two should we go for the same vaccine or a different vaccine and we call it a homologous or heterologous strategy and there is scientific basis to suggest a heterologous strategy may confer stronger protection so the uk is implementing such a strategy and we will be monitoring the outcome closely and in singapore too we have not a small group quite a sizeable group of people who took the first shot of mrna found out that they were they are allergic to it and therefore complete their vaccinations using synovac so we too the ec19 will be closely monitoring the immune response but one thing which the ec19v is very clear on and will recommend is that we will proceed to administer a third shot for patients who are severely immune compromised at the time of their first two doses who are they some examples are patients who are on cancer treatment transplant transplant patients other patients on immunosuppressive therapy and end-stage kidney disease patients on dialysis and because of their conditions these persons they react much less to vaccination even after two doses meaning they cannot produce as much antibodies or activate the necessary mechanisms to fight the virus hence a third dose of vaccine is necessary for them so the ac the ec19v will be putting out their recommendations on this group shortly and finally let me talk about our health protocols we have been making adjustments to them as we transit to living with covet 19. and this is a key reason why we call this phase the preparatory stage so what are the things we did we started to allow fully vaccinated individuals who expose the virus and issue qo quarantine orders to opt for home quarantine today eighty percent of eight zero percent of our community cases go into home quarantine and 20 in dedicated facilities second thing we did is we move more infected persons who are fully vaccinated to community care facilities instead of hospitals today 65 percent of community cases are in such community care facilities and 35 in hospitals both initiatives are working very well which means our hospitals and the whole pandemic management capacity is less likely to come under severe stress and we will now make a next crucial move in healthcare protocols this is in consideration that over 98 of infected persons who are fully vaccinated have no symptoms or display mild symptoms and it makes sense to step them one notch further from community care facilities to home recovery and it is not a new concept countries like australia canada uk they have done so and quite successfully and we have been a lot more cautious but now that the great majority of our people are fully vaccinated we should also take a step in this direction so we will implement a home recovery scheme as a pilot for a small number of households at the end of this month august we will put in place a robust monitoring and support system to make sure the individual stays at home and also receive adequate medical support family members they are all required to be fully vaccinated and also quarantined at the same time so if we want to live with covet 19 as an endemic disease this is a crucial step to take it will further free up hospital capacity enable our healthcare system to revert to peacetime operation and attend to the healthcare needs of our population
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Singapore Health Minister Ong Ye Kung on the recent spate of COVID-19-related deaths

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