Singapore ICU beds fill up as severe Covid cases rise

by BLOOMBERG 

THE number of seriously ill Covid-19 patients in Singapore has risen to such an extent that 83.6% of intensive care unit beds in government-run hospitals have been taken up, and only 60 are currently vacant.

Of the 366 ICU beds in public hospitals, 306 have occupants, according to a statement from the Ministry of Health on Monday. Of that total, 171 patients were being treated for Covid and 135 for non-Covid ailments.

Singapore has said previously that it can open up more beds for Covid patients if needed. Health Minister Ong Ye Kung said last week the government is looking to increase the number of ICU beds available in public hospitals for treating Covid patients to 300.

ICU bed capacity is being closely watched as authorities warn of the risk of Singapore’s health-care system being overwhelmed. The current utilization rate has increased from about two-thirds, a figure cited just under a week ago.

While the government is loosening border controls to allow in vaccinated visitors from more countries, it has extended strict curbs on the island to late November, including limiting social gatherings to two people. Officials have said these rules may only be relaxed when the situation at the hospitals stabilizes.

“Our hospitals and health-care workers continue to come under tremendous pressure,” Ong said last week. He said while more ICU beds will be opened up if needed, this would affect normal services and medical care. ICU patients stay on average 15 days, and some up to a month, he said.

Singapore reported 3,174 new Covid-19 cases Monday. There were 14 deaths from virus-related complications, all involving people with underlying medical conditions, according to the ministry. The ratio of community cases for the past week over the week before is 1.18. Officials are also watching for this figure to dip below 1 before potentially easing curbs.