Singapore Is Witnessing Unexpected Covid Surge: Here's What Happened

by Bhaswati Guha Majumder - May 20, 2021 04:44 PM +05:30 IST
Singapore Is Witnessing Unexpected Covid Surge: Here's What HappenedSingapore sees rising Covid-19 cases.
Snapshot
  • Singapore's Ministry of Health said that a total of 34 new Covid-19 community cases were reported in the country as of 19 May with the country reporting over 240 new coronavirus cases just last week.

Singapore has been witnessing a sudden and aggressive surge in Covid-19 cases.

The Ministry of Health (MOH) Singapore said that a total of 34 new Covid-19 community cases were reported in the country as of 19 May.

The southeast Asian country has reported over 240 new coronavirus cases just last week.

As a result, the Singapore government has decided to go for a heightened state of restrictions, limiting the size of social gatherings and closing schools.

By global standards, this number may look small, but for the country, which has a population of around 5.7 million, these new cases have emerged as a new threat.

Singapore Covid-19 Situation

After the identification of new coronavirus variants, especially the B.1.617 which was first detected in India, restrictions have been brought back in Singapore.

According to the government, these curbs will be in place until 13 June.

While restaurants are not allowed to operate for dine-in, the public gathering has been reduced to two people to curb the spread of the virus.

Even though Covid-19 measures have always been stringent despite low cases in Singapore, there were some gaps in terms of vaccination.

By May, Singapore’s Changi International Airport had turned into the country's biggest Covid-19 cluster in 2021.

Authorities found that several infected airport staff had been working in a zone that received travellers from high-risk countries.

Some of these employees went to the airport’s food courts — used by the public — and spread the virus further.

As a result, the country has closed the passenger terminal for public use temporarily.

Later, it was found that many of the infected people have been affected by the highly contagious B.1.617 variant, which is labelled as the variant of concern by the World Health Organization (WHO).

However, now the Changi Airport has announced that it would segregate the flights, as well as the passengers from high-risk nations and regions from those arriving from low-risk countries.

Prof Teo Yik Ying, who is the Dean of the NUS School of Public Health, said that Singapore is “not like China” which can shut down the borders completely.

“Our reputation as a country, our economy, is linked to our position as a trade hub,” he added.

While referring to the United States’ Covid-19 situation in 2020, Prof Teo said: “Its worst virus cases came in not from China, but from travellers that went to Europe.”

“So how many countries can Singapore close its borders to? We have to understand it's never just closing off one country," he explained.

In terms of vaccination, almost 30 per cent of Singapore’s population have received at least one dose.

Singapore government is expecting to vaccinate its entire population by the end of 2021.

As per reports, more than one-fifth of Singapore’s population has been vaccinated with Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna jabs.

Now, the country has also approved Pfizer-BioNTech for children above the age of 12.

But the real problem in Singapore is vaccine supply.

Prof Teo said: “We are limited by the supply. In countries like the United Kingdom, the United States and China, they have the capabilities to produce their own vaccines.”

"We anticipate that the need for vaccines is going to be long term, so that's why we are moving towards having our own manufacturing capabilities. Then we will no longer be reliant," he added.

While talking about relaxing Covid-19 measures, he also pointed to the fact that what happened in Taiwan and Singapore [the sudden spike in Covid-19 cases], is a sign that “we should not let our guard down".

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