Singapore’s daily Covid cases breach 1,000 over the weekend — first time since April 2020

People wearing face masks as a preventive measure against the spread of Covid-19 in Singapore.

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SINGAPORE — Singapore reported more than 1,000 Covid cases for two straight days over the weekend —the first time infections breached that level since April 2020, at the height of the pandemic.

The Southeast Asian country confirmed 1,009 new infections on Saturday, and 1,012 new cases on Sunday, according to data from the health ministry.

That’s the highest number since April 23 last year. At that time, majority of Singapore’s cases were detected in migrant worker dormitories. Infections hit a record high of 1,426 on April 20, 2020.

Authorities have shied away from new restrictions in recent weeks, and ministers previously warned that Covid cases would surge past 1,000 as the country seeks to live with the virus. The approach stands in contrast to the government’s earlier strategy, where measures were tightened with cases in the low double digits.

A major wave of infections and an exponential rise in daily cases is “almost like a rite of passage,” Health Minister Ong Ye Kung said on Friday in a virtual press briefing.

But more than 80% of Singapore’s population has already been vaccinated, and that makes the situation different from what other countries went through, he pointed out.

There is no doubt the country would have seen numerous deaths and an overwhelmed health-care system if the population had not been vaccinated, Ong said.

“We have avoided that thus far because of our very high vaccination coverage,” he said.

The government is now focusing its attention on severely ill patients and deaths, which have remained relatively low at 60 deaths since the start of the pandemic.

Over the past 28 days, 98.1% of infected people were asymptomatic or had mild symptoms, according to the health ministry’s daily update.

Out of 7,144 active cases as of Sept. 19, 118 people require oxygen supplementation and 21 people are in critical condition in the intensive care unit (ICU).

The health ministry previously said it can ramp up the ICU capacity to 1,000 beds if needed.

— CNBC’s Yen Nee Lee contributed to this report.