'No wave will last forever', but current COVID spike may not be last: Lawrence Wong

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People walk out during lunch break at the Raffles Place financial business district in Singapore on September 14, 2021. (Photo by Roslan RAHMAN / AFP) (Photo by ROSLAN RAHMAN/AFP via Getty Images)
People walk out during lunch break at the Raffles Place financial business district in Singapore on September 14, 2021. (Photo by Roslan RAHMAN / AFP) (Photo by ROSLAN RAHMAN/AFP via Getty Images)

SINGAPORE – The current rise in COVID cases may not be "the last wave we experience", said multi-ministry taskforce (MTF) co-chair Lawrence Wong. 

Speaking at an MTF virtual press conference on Saturday (2 October), Wong, who is also Finance Minister, told reporters, "We are riding one major... one big wave now. But we should be mentally prepared that there will be subsequent waves to follow." 

He said Singapore is "one of the most COVID-naive populations in the world". 

"Unlike for example, many other European countries, we have kept infections in Singapore low for a very long time," said Wong, noting that many countries ended up paying a "high price" with many fatalities. 

"Now they have a much higher level of natural immunity and together with the vaccination programmes that they have introduced, many of these countries have reached the new COVID-stable situation."

The city-state is now facing the coronavirus with a much more highly vaccinated population, and it may reach a point with high vaccinations and a higher level of natural immunity only months later. 

"No wave will last forever, but it's hard to tell what the peak will be right now," said Wong, adding the "range of views" have placed the peak at between 5,000 and 10,000 cases. 

5,000 new daily cases possibly in mid-October

At the current trajectory, new daily COVID cases in Singapore will cross the 3,200-mark soon, and may event start seeing 5,000 daily new COVID cases around mid-October.

However, the percentage of patients who require ICU care remains low, at about 0.2 per cent. The proportion of fully vaccinated cases who needed intensive care or passed away is also about 14 times less than that for the unvaccinated. 

In a press release on Saturday, the Ministry of Health (MOH) said that it is most concerned for the elderly, particularly those who are unvaccinated. "The proportion of cases who are seniors aged 60 and above has remained stable at about 27 per cent to 32 per cent in the past 28 days. We urge all seniors, especially the minority of unvaccinated seniors, to take extra precautions and avoid crowded places during this period," the ministry said. 

Awaiting booster vaccination recommendations for additional groups

The ministry also said that the Expert Committee on COVID-19 Vaccination (EC19V) has been deliberating on recommending a booster vaccination for additional population groups, such as healthcare workers, frontline workers and persons in other vulnerable settings beyond nursing homes.

"More details will be announced by EC19V when ready. MOH will await the formal recommendations of EC19V, but we stand fully ready to support this extension," the ministry added. 

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