SINGAPORE – If Covid-19 continues to spread in the community at the current rate, there could be 2,000 new daily cases in a month’s time, Finance Minister Lawrence Wong said on Monday (Sept 6).
What concerns the authorities is not the absolute number of cases but the rate at which the virus is spreading, said the minister, who co-chairs the multi-ministry task force on the virus.
Speaking to the media on a range of new advisories and measures announced on Monday, Mr Wong noted that the reproduction rate of the coronavirus in Singapore, or R value, is currently above one, and cases are doubling every week. The R value measures the average number of people that one infected person will pass the virus on to.
The number of new cases in the community almost doubled to more than 1,200 cases last week, up from around 600 cases the week before. On Monday, there were 235 new locally transmitted cases as at noon.
“We know from the experience of other countries that when cases rise so sharply, there would be many more intensive care unit (ICU) cases and also people succumbing to the virus,” Mr Wong said.
“It is not just the unvaccinated seniors, because even for vaccinated persons, there will be a small proportion of them falling severely ill. And if you have a very high infection caseload, that small proportion will translate to a sizeable number of ICU cases, and eventually fatalities.”
While efforts are aimed at curbing the spread of the virus without having to return to a state of heightened alert or a circuit breaker, Mr Wong said these options are not being ruled out.
“If, despite our best efforts, we find that the number of serious cases needing oxygen and ICU care goes up sharply, then we may have no choice but to tighten our overall posture.”