Singapore will no longer cover the medical bills of COVID-19 patients who are "unvaccinated by choice," the country's Ministry of Health announced on Nov. 8.
The government has been providing free COVID-19 treatment for Singaporeans, permanent residents, and long-term pass holders, unless they tested positive after returning from overseas travel. They will end the hospital bill coverage, however, for people who are "unvaccinated by choice" by Dec. 8.
The move, according to Health Minister Ong Ye Kung, was made to urge people to get inoculated against the virus.
"We have to send this important signal to urge everyone to get vaccinated if you are eligible," he said during a press briefing.
The government will still cover bills for those who are ineligible for vaccination, such as kids under 12 years old. It will also still foot the bill for partially vaccinated individuals until Dec. 31.
A surge in cases
The nation is currently grappling with a surge in cases, and a bulk of these are from the uninoculated population. On Nov. 8, it logged 2,470 new cases and 14 deaths.
“Currently, unvaccinated persons make up a sizable majority of those who require intensive inpatient care, and disproportionately contribute to the strain on our health care resources,” the ministry said in a statement.
Singapore is one of the most inoculated countries with at least 85% of its population currently vaccinated against COVID-19, with 18% given booster shots.