Covid 19 Delta outbreak: Singapore’s warning to Australia as cases soar despite high vaccination

It’s been more than a month since New South Wales came out of lockdown and several weeks since Victoria did the same, yet the predicted surge of Covid-19 cases has failed to occur.

Indeed, in both states daily numbers have barely budged or even trended downwards.

But a health expert has said Australia’s covid case “honeymoon” could be short-lived and the country only has to look at Singapore to see that cases will almost inevitably rise once more.

It’s likely just a matter of when that surge happens. Some epidemiologists think that rise is already occurring.

On Saturday, Victorian health authorities announced 1221 new local Covid-19 cases and four deaths. NSW had 250 cases and no deaths.

For Victoria that’s about 100 more from Friday but the trend downwards continues in a state that was getting more than 2000 cases a month ago.

The 250 cases north of the Murray is the lowest for four days but is higher than the 129 cases on October 31.

Yet in Singapore, a country of 5.6 million – about one million fewer people than Victoria – cases have soared since it memorably declared it would learn to “live with Covid”.

On Friday, Singapore had 3099 cases and 14 deaths. That is down on a high of 5300 in late October.

The country started easing restrictions in August, and the surge began in September when around two thirds of its population was double vaccinated.

Talking to ABC News, infectious diseases expert Professor Dale Fisher of Singapore’s National University said the country’s experience should be a sobering lesson for Australia.

“I think you will get a bit of a (summer) honeymoon because people open the doors, windows, go outside for picnics. That’s much safer.

“My concern, in Australia, would be more about March to April, as you’re going back into winter,” he told the ABC.

There are several warnings Singapore could provide to Australia, he said.

One is waning immunity which, globally, is leading to spikes in cases even though vaccinations are still providing good protection against hospitalisations and deaths.

Singapore is now administering booster shoots to help rein in the case rise.

Another reason for Singapore’s post lockdown surge could actually work in Australia’s favour.

A small but significant chunk of older Singaporeans have not got both their jabs. Figures from the country’s health ministry show that while around 95 per cent of people aged between 20 and 70 have had both doses, that drops to 86 per cent for the over 80s.

That’s not the case in Australia. Department of Health data states some 94 per cent of 80-85 years olds in Australia have had both shots. That figure remains above 90 per cent for all but the over 95s.

This stubborn cohort of the unvaccinated is one of the reasons the Singaporean Government made the controversial decision to make those without their two shots pay their own hospital bills.

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