Swift virus spike threatens Singapore's 'living with Covid' plans

·Assistant News Editor
·3-min read

Singapore is contemplating reintroducing restrictions as Covid case numbers quickly spike after the country hit 80 per cent vaccination coverage and subsequently opened up.

Singapore's health ministry recorded 328 new cases on Tuesday, the highest daily number of new infections in more than a year for the country of 5.7 million people. It recorded 235 cases a day earlier.

Yesterday's spike is the highest number of daily cases in the country since the record 904 seen in early August 2020.

While the daily case number for the city-state is about a quarter of what NSW is currently experiencing each day, the speed of the rise is threatening Singapore's 'living with Covid' model after it became the first country to fully vaccinate 80 per cent of its population. 

Eighty-three per cent have had at least their first dose in Singapore. Source: moh.gov.sg
Eighty-three per cent have had at least their first dose in Singapore. Source: moh.gov.sg

Vaccine coverage not enough to deal with Delta

Speaking to local newspaper The Straight Times on Tuesday, Leo Yee Sin, executive director of the National Centre for Infectious Diseases, said the country "cannot solely rely on vaccines" to fight the Delta variant. 

Finance minister and co-chair of the country's coronavirus task force, Lawrence Wong, told local media in a briefing on Monday that Singapore may reimpose Covid-19 curbs if the number of severe cases rises sharply.

He said the "the rate at which the virus is spreading" was concerning the government. 

"We know from the experience of other countries that when cases rise so sharply there will be many more ICU cases and many more people succumbing to the virus," he said. 

Like Australia, Singapore achieved success in pursuing a Covid-zero strategy during the pandemic.

Passengers prepare to check-in their luggage at Changi International Airport in Singapore. Source: Getty
Passengers prepare to check-in their luggage at Changi International Airport in Singapore. Source: Getty

Singapore travel bubbles open

The rising concerns comes less than 10 days after the Health Ministry touted the country's opening up after hitting 80 per cent vaccination coverage – an experiment that gives Australia a window into its own future. 

"It means Singapore has taken another step forward in making ourselves more resilient to Covid-19," Health Minister Ong Ye Kung wrote in a triumphant Facebook post on August 29. 

From today, the country is opening a travel bubble with Germany and Brunei, allowing those who are fully vaccinated to travel between the countries without having to quarantine. The travel bubble is not extended to residents under 12 who are not eligible for the vaccine. 

Singapore has also been flagged as a possible travel destination for Australians as long as 80 per cent of the population is fully vaccinated.

But with the uncertainty the comes with the ongoing pandemic, national leaders will be keeping a close eye on how things unfold in Singapore in the coming weeks.

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