Singapore on Wednesday extended its 'stabilisation phase', which caps social gatherings to a maximum of two people and calls for work from home, by another month amidst a rise in Covid cases in the country.
The Stabilisation Phase, which started on September 27 and was originally scheduled to last until October 24, is now extended to November 21. The move was initiated to reduce the strain on the country's healthcare system.
Social gatherings were capped to a maximum of two while work-from-home became the default arrangement, among other measures.
“Unfortunately, given the continuing pressures on our healthcare system, more time is needed for the situation to stabilise,” the Channel News Asia quoted the health ministry as saying.
The measures will be reviewed at the two-week mark and adjusted based on the COVID-19 community situation then, the ministry said.
According to the health ministry, daily cases in the country are rising and many vulnerable patients require intensive care.
The number of new COVID-19 cases in Singapore has hovered around 3,000 a day, and hit a high of 3,994 on Tuesday.
"To allow more time for the situation to stabilise further, and to protect our healthcare system and workers, we will need to maintain our existing community safe management measures," the ministry said.
About 89 per cent of isolation beds and 67 per cent of intensive care beds, including those for non-COVID-19 patients, in public hospitals have been filled. This is out of a total of 1,650 isolation beds and 200 ICU beds.
"Even as the public hospitals continue to set aside more beds for COVID-19 patients, we have observed longer admission waiting time for these patients," the ministry said.
Meanwhile, Finance Minister Lawrence Wong, co-chair of the multi-ministry task force (MTF) on managing COVID-19, said it is currently still “too risky” to allow five people from the same household to dine in together, but it is a move authorities will look into.
Addressing a press conference on Wednesday, Wong said the suggestion had come from the Restaurant Association of Singapore (RAS).
“For now, we think it's still too risky to make such a move because of the pressure on the healthcare system, but it is indeed something we are looking into," Wong said.
The minister also acknowledged that this has been "probably the most difficult phase" in Singapore's journey through the pandemic so far.
On Tuesday, Singapore reported 3,994 new COVID-19 cases, including 501 from dormitories for migrant workers, and seven deaths.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)