Office workers wearing masks cross a street during lunch hour, amid the COVID-19 outbreak, in Singapore on May 12 2021. Picture: REUTERS/DAWN CHUA
Office workers wearing masks cross a street during lunch hour, amid the COVID-19 outbreak, in Singapore on May 12 2021. Picture: REUTERS/DAWN CHUA

Singapore’s leaders have justified a recent anti-Covid crackdown by warning about the effect the virus could have on unvaccinated senior citizens. The data shows it is younger people who are getting infected in greater numbers.

The sharp rise in cases that sparked tighter group limits and the reimposition of a ban on dining in has largely been affecting the city-state’s younger — and least fully vaccinated — population, according to data from the Ministry of Health.

Like elsewhere, seniors, the most vulnerable group to Covid, were among the first to be offered vaccinations in the island-state, while under-40s were offered slots in June. Almost 80% in the latter group have had their first dose and most of them are awaiting the second. Singaporeans in this group were given priority over long-term pass holders — largely foreign workforce and expats who could book their first vaccination for the start of this month.

Singapore reported more than 160 local cases over each of the past three days, despite having logged zero as recently as July 10. This comes as the government ramps up its campaign to vaccinate those above 70, who are seen to be the most vulnerable if infected with the disease.

Cases among the younger population could be of concern to authorities as well, since these people could accidentally pass the virus on to seniors in the community, or when visiting relatives. There were 400 local cases among people aged 19 to 39 years in the past 14 days, compared with 59 cases among those older than 70, according to the data on Wednesday.

In a Facebook post on Wednesday, Singapore’s health minister Ong Ye Kung explained that the recent clampdown was because of a cluster at a fishery port, with fishmongers spreading cases at markets where they also work.

“Markets are frequented by seniors, many of whom remain unvaccinated. This is most worrying, and we are at risk of an uncontrollable rise in cases, which could potentially result in many severe illnesses or even deaths. So we need to preemptively tighten up social activities,” Ong said.

At present, there are seven patients who require oxygen supplementation, and one is in critical condition in the intensive care unit. They are more than 60 years old. Of them, six are completely unvaccinated and the remaining two are partially vaccinated. A little over 70% of those 70 years old and above are fully vaccinated so far, according to the ministry of health data.

The government has ramped up measures to get the elderly vaccinated, including through enlisting the help of doctors and polyclinics to encourage the seniors to get their jab. Mobile vaccination teams have also been deployed to ease the process.

Bloomberg News. More stories like this are available on bloomberg.com

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