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Singapore optimistic as severe COVID-19 cases remain low – Reuters

Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris (not pictured) hold a joint news conference in Singapore, August 23, 2021. REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein/Pool/Files
SINGAPORE, Sept 17 (Reuters) – Singapore, which has one of the world's highest COVID-19 vaccination rates, is seeing encouraging signs that the number of severe cases is not rising at the same pace as new infections, a senior health official said on Friday.
The country reported 910 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, the most in 15 months, with average new daily infections rising from 146 two weeks ago to 682 in the past week.
But the number of people in serious condition remains low, however, with 12 in intensive care units (ICU), from a total of 837 people hospitalised with COVID-19 in Singapore as of Thursday, the health ministry said.
A week ago, there were seven ICU patients.
If that pattern continues, "the healthcare resources we have would be well able to cope and cater for those who are more severely affected," director of medical services, Kenneth Mak, told a media briefing.
"While the indications are encouraging at this point, the data is still very early, and we do need to look at the situation over the next two weeks," he said.
The recent rise has prompted Singapore to pause on further reopening as its monitors for severe cases over the next few weeks.
About 82% of its 5.7 million population has been fully vaccinated.
The Southeast Asian country has started giving boosters to the elderly and immunocompromised groups this week, with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong receiving his jab on Friday.
"Cases are increasing rapidly. A booster jab will strengthen your protection against COVID-19," Lee, 69, said in a post on his Facebook page.
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China's restrictive practices present fundamental problems for its application to join a major pan-Pacific free trade pact, and if it joins before Taiwan there is a risk it could block their application, the island's economy minister said.
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