Singapore Hopes to Ride Omicron Wave with Tightened Measures Only as ‘Last Resort’
SINGAPORE: Current COVID-19 measures will only be stepped up as a “last resort” when Singapore’s health system comes under great pressure, Health Minister Ong Ye Kung told parliament on Monday (January 10).
“It is the hope (of the multi-ministerial working group) that we can ride the Omicron wave with the current safe management measures,” he said in response to questions about putting stricter rules in place. .
“If we are to tighten the restrictions, it will be a last resort when our health care system is under great strain. “
The task force previously said existing rules, such as limiting party sizes to five, would remain during the Chinese New Year period.
Citing Singapore’s experience with the Delta wave last year, Ong also noted that even after it subsided, authorities refrained from “gloating too much” and easing restrictions. restrictions. “It would have been a mistake,” he said.
BIGGER OMICRON WAVE EXPECTED
Singapore can expect an infection wave “several times larger” than that caused by Delta, Ong said, citing the higher transmissibility of the Omicron variant.
“If Delta infections reached a sustained incidence of around 3,000 cases per day, Omicron could possibly reach 10,000 to 15,000 cases per day, or even more.
“Cases are expected to double every two or three days. So once the cases start to increase sharply, in a few weeks we could see 3,000 Omicron cases per day. “
But Mr Ong also pointed to global studies which have shown that the Omicron variant causes less severe illness than Delta – with fewer cases admitted to hospital or requiring emergency care.
“This has also been confirmed by our own experience. In Singapore, we have registered 4,322 Omicron infections so far, including 308 people aged 60 and over, ”he said.
“Eight needed supplemental oxygen and all were deprived of oxygen after a few days. None have yet required intensive care.
If those infections had instead been caused by Delta, authorities would expect 50 to 60 patients requiring supplemental oxygen, intensive care or to die, he added.
But Mr. Ong warned that Singapore must exercise caution in interpreting these observations, because “this is the start and each country’s circumstances are different.”