Singapore: Singapore must brace for a much bigger coronavirus infection wave from Omicron as compared to that from the Delta variant, the health ministry has said.
At its peak, the number of Omicron cases could be a few times more than the approximately 3,000 daily cases that the Delta variant was registering in October and November last year, Health Minister Ong Ye Kung said at a press conference on Wednesday.
While Delta infections were doubling in six to eight days, Omicron infections may double in two to three days, he said, adding that the city-state must brace for a much bigger COVID wave from Omicron compared to that from the Delta variant.
However, the silver lining is that studies coming out of countries like South Africa, the US and Canada is that infections from Omicron are less severe than that from the Delta variant, Ong was quoted as saying by Channel News Asia at a COVID-19 multi-ministry task force press conference.
Noting a similar situation in Singapore, the minister said of the 2,252 Omicron cases in Singapore so far, three required oxygen supplementation, but were taken off the support within three days and are recovering. None of the cases required intensive care.
Meanwhile, Covid multi-ministry task force (MMTF) co-chair Lawrence Wong said the government might have to tighten safety measures if coronavirus transmission is amplified by “unnecessary” risks and the healthcare system is overwhelmed.
Putting a number to the possible manifold increase, Ministry of Health director of medical services Associate Professor Kenneth Mak said the Omicron wave could reach 15,000 cases a day in a “worse-case scenario”. At the highest during the Delta variant peak last year, the number of cases surpassed 5,000 cases.
The health ministry in a statement said over the past week, Singapore detected 1,281 confirmed Omicron cases, comprising 1,048 imported cases and 233 local cases. This makes up around 18 per cent of local cases in the last week.
With higher transmissibility of the Omicron variant, we are likely to experience another wave of community infections soon, it said.
Wong, who is also the finance minister, stressed on the importance of people adhering to safe management measures amid an expected rise in cases due to the Omicron variant.
“If we continue to stay disciplined and comply with all the SMMs (safe management measures) then we have a much higher chance of getting through this upcoming wave without having to tighten further,” he said.
“But if we were to let our guard down and take unnecessary risk, then transmission will be amplified, the infection wave will be much larger. We will end up with greater pressure on our healthcare system, and we may have no choice but to tighten,” Wong said.
Singapore has so far recorded 282,401 COVID-19 cases, including 440 Omicron infections reported on Wednesday. Two more people died due to the disease, taking the total death toll to 834, the health ministry said.
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