Singapore to Deny Free Covid Healthcare to the Unvaccinated

Starting from December 8th, the city-state of Singapore will deny access to free Covid healthcare to those who refuse to get vaccinated. The Government will continue to cover the cost of treatment for those who have received the jab or those unable to, such as children under 12 years-old. The MailOnline has the story.

The Government had always covered the medical bills of those who are fully vaccinated, under 12, or medically ineligible for the jab. 

Singapore has one of the highest vaccination rates in the world with more than 85% of the population fully vaccinated. 

But the city-state’s healthcare system is struggling under the strain of a fierce outbreak, reporting around 2,000 to 3,000 cases a day and a handful of deaths.

Those affected will still be able to use regular financing arrangements to cover the cost, such as private insurance…

The Health Minister said partially vaccinated residents will not be charged for hospital care until after December 31st, giving them enough time to get the second jab. 

And medically ineligible patients can from November 15th visit any certified medical practitioner to get an exemption card to prove why they have not had the vaccine.

The Government is also working on an automated system to streamline checks for medically ineligible residents to enter venues without having to show paper documentation.

But the Health Ministry warned unvaccinated residents to minimise their time in the community to avoid catching or spreading Covid.   

The Ministry said: “While we have extended a concession to those who are medically ineligible to be able to dine-in, enter malls and participate in activities where required, they remain unvaccinated and their risk of becoming infected with Covid and/or becoming severely ill remains real and very high.

“We strongly encourage these individuals to minimise such activities and to use this concession judiciously.”

Worth reading in full.

Brit Sentenced to Six Weeks in Prison in Singapore for Not Wearing a Face Mask

A British man who refused to wear a face mask on public transport in Singapore and who reportedly harassed the police sent to arrest him for breaking Covid rules has been sentenced to six weeks in prison in the country. He has been charged, in part, for being a ‘public nuisance’. The Guardian has the story.

The city-state, which has had comparatively mild Covid outbreaks, has taken a tough line against people breaking virus rules, and there have been several cases of foreigners being punished.

Benjamin Glynn was arrested after footage of him not wearing a mask on a train in May went viral.

The 40 year-old subsequently harassed police sent to arrest him, and refused to wear a face-covering during a court appearance last month.

According to reports, Glynn delivered a rant in court – in which he described the proceedings as “preposterous” and “disgusting” – and said masks were not effective in preventing the spread of Covid.

This prompted the judge to order a psychiatric assessment, but Glynn was deemed fit enough for the case to continue.

On Wednesday, he was convicted for breaching Covid rules, his behaviour towards police, and causing a public nuisance.

A court official confirmed the jail term to AFP on Thursday, saying it was backdated to July 19th – the date when Glynn was first remanded.

As he had already served two-thirds of his sentence on remand, Glynn was freed from prison Wednesday and will be deported, according to local newspaper the Straits Times. …

In May, nine Britons were banned from working in Singapore after breaking coronavirus rules while partying on a yacht in Santa hats.

Worth reading in full.

Singaporean Ministers Announce That Country Must Learn to Live With COVID-19

Singapore has recorded fewer deaths from COVID-19 than almost any other country with reliable data: only 36 to date, which equates to a rate of just six per million. (The U.K.’s official COVID-19 death rate is 1,890 per million.)

And according to the World Mortality Dataset, Singapore has had zero excess mortality since the pandemic began. On the other hand, the country did take a sizeable economic hit last year – with GDP falling by 5.4% (compared to only 2.8% in Sweden).

What’s more, Singapore has not recorded more than 100 cases in a day since August of last year. If any advanced country has come close to “Zero Covid”, it’s Singapore.

Despite that record, three Singaporean ministers have announced that “COVID-19 may never go away” and “it is possible to live normally with it in our midst”.

Writing in The Straits Times, Gan Kim Yong, Lawrence Wong and Ong Ye Kung (the ministers for trade, finance and health) say that “COVID-19 will very likely become endemic”. This means that “the virus will continue to mutate, and thereby survive in our community”.

In other words, the Singaporean Government is under no illusion that it will be possible to eliminate COVID-19, contrary to the claims of the “Zero COVID” movement. Indeed, a survey by Nature of 119 experts found that 89% believe it is “likely” or “very likely” that SARS-CoV-2 will become an endemic virus.

“We can’t eradicate it”, the ministers write, “but we can turn the pandemic into something much less threatening, like influenza.” How do they propose to deal with the virus going forward?

First, they intend to proceed with their vaccination program, which aims to have two thirds of people vaccinated by August 9th. Second, they intend to continue testing, but “the focus will be different”. For example, the country will cease “monitoring COVID-19 infection numbers every day”. Third, they intend to keep using and developing effective treatments for COVID-19.

As Yong, Wong and Kung conclude, “History has shown that every pandemic will run its course.” Though one might object that even the few remaining measures are no longer necessary, the ministers seem to understand what they’re talking about. Their article is worth reading in full.