Singapore confirms 20,312 new COVID cases; 2nd straight day crossing 20,000-mark

People walk past the Formula One Pit building, which was converted into a treatment facilities for seniors who are infected with COVID-19 on February 19, 2022 in Singapore. (Photo by Suhaimi Abdullah/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
People walk past the Formula One Pit building, which has been converted into a treatment facilities for seniors who are infected with COVID-19, on 19 February, 2022 in Singapore. (PHOTO: NurPhoto via Getty Images)

SINGAPORE — The Ministry of Health (MOH) confirmed 20,312 new COVID cases on Wednesday (23 February), down from a record-high of 26,032 a day before.

This marks the second consecutive day the city-state reported over 20,000 new daily cases and brings the country's total case count to 642,605.

Of Wednesday's new cases, 20,152, or some 99 per cent, are local: 17,267 were detected via antigen rapid tests (ART) and 2,885 via polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests.

The remaining 160 new infections are imported. Of them, 55 were detected via ART while 105 were detected via PCR tests.

A total of seven COVID-19 related deaths were also reported on Wednesday, bringing the death toll here to 963.

The weekly infection growth rate – or ratio of community cases for the past week over the week before – was 1.49, down from 1.57 the day before. A figure of over one means that the number of new weekly cases is on the rise.

A total of 15,298 cases were discharged, while 1,587 remain warded, down from 1,608 hospitalised cases on Tuesday. This marks the 19th day in a row such cases have crossed the 1,000 mark.

Of those still hospitalised, 200 require oxygen supplementation, while 46 are in the intensive care unit (ICU).

As of Tuesday, 91 per cent of the total population has completed the full vaccination regimen, while 66 per cent have received their booster shots.

Public urged to visit hospitals only for emergencies

In a press release on Tuesday night, the MOH said that hospitals, polyclinics, and general practitioner (GP) clinics are "very busy" with healthcare workers under "severe pressure.

"It may take a few weeks before the transmission wave peaks and subsides," it reiterated.

This has resulted in a surge in demand for hospital beds, mostly for patients with underlying chronic illnesses to recover, the ministry said, adding that it is "doing whatever we can to support our healthcare providers".

The ministry also noted that many patients, who are coming forward to hospitals, polyclinics, and GP clinics, have no or mild symptoms. These patients are looking to have their ART conducted by a medical professional and documented in the MOH’s records, or to request a medical certificate.

"This has added significant workload to our healthcare providers who are already under significant pressure and stress," said the MOH. "We urge employers not to insist that employees provide medical certificates or recovery memos if they have tested positive for COVID-19."

Instead, employers are encouraged to remind employees who are at low risk and have mild symptoms or are physically well to isolate and recover at home instead of visiting clinics or hospitals, the MOH added.

The ministry also urged members of the public not to rush to a hospital emergency department, unless they are experiencing an emergency.

To help spread out peak patient load at private clinics, the MOH said it will extend the operating hours of Public Health Preparedness Clinics (PHPCs) with effect from 25 February to 10 March.

Selected PHPCs across the island will operate weekday nights up to 11pm, weekend afternoons from 2pm to 5pm, and weekend nights up to 11pm. Selected polyclinics will also be operating on Saturday afternoons and Sunday mornings.

From 26 February, the Combined Test Centres (CTCs) will provide access to telemedicine consultations for symptomatic members of the public who go to CTCs for testing during the weekends. The testing and consultations will be funded by the government during this period.

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