SINGAPORE, Sept 13 (Reuters) — The rapid pace of new COVID-19 infections and a doubling of seriously ill patients in Singapore have raised unexpected hurdles to reopening plans for the vaccination frontrunner, where 81% of the population is fully vaccinated.
Singapore, one of the fastest in the world to reach that level, has seen its inoculation rates plateau, and this month paused its gradual reopening plans, spooked by daily infections that returned to one-year peaks this month.
Infections over the weekend were more than a combined 1,000 cases, a tenfold increase from a month ago. Many experts, though, are not overly concerned about the rise in infections because of the low number of serious cases and Singapore’s high vaccination percentage.
The number of patients requiring oxygen, however, doubled to a record 54 on Sunday from two days before, an important gauge to judge whether the medical system could get overwhelmed.
The number of patients in intensive care units (ICU) have held at a low seven. Around 300 ICU beds are available and that could be increased to 1,000.
Many nations that have kept infections low and are considering taking steps to return to some normalcy once they achieve high vaccination rates are closely watching how the situation develops in Singapore.