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Singapore has done whatever it can to prepare for next COVID-19 wave amid global Omicron spread: Lawrence Wong

Singapore has done whatever it can to prepare for next COVID-19 wave amid global Omicron spread: Lawrence Wong

People wearing protective face masks along Orchard Road in Singapore on Oct 1, 2021. (Photo: CNA/Gaya Chandramohan)

SINGAPORE: Singapore has done whatever it can to prepare for the next COVID-19 wave, said co-chair of the multi-ministry task force Lawrence Wong on Monday (Dec 27). 

In a Facebook post, Mr Wong said it is "inevitable" that Omicron will spread in the community as it has in countries everywhere. 

"We must expect a new wave of cases in the coming days and weeks.

"But we have done whatever we can to prepare for this next wave, and we can weather through it together as one people," he added. 

Mr Wong said it has been a month since the Omicron variant emerged, which was first detected by scientists in South Africa.

"Initially we had adopted a more cautious containment approach - this was to buy time to slow down the spread of the variant and learn more about it. 

"We now know that the Omicron variant is likely to be more transmissible but less severe than Delta," said Mr Wong, adding that current vaccines and boosters are effective in protecting against severe illnesses caused by the Omicron variant. 

Singapore is now adjusting its protocols to manage the Omicron cases the same way as it did for Delta, he said. Omicron cases or close contacts can recover or isolate at home, rather than going to a dedicated facility.

Initially, Omicron cases were isolated in dedicated facilities by default, but they will now be placed on home recovery or treated at community care facilities depending on their clinical presentation. 

"We will then prioritise our healthcare resources for the more severe cases, as well as those who are more vulnerable," said Mr Wong. 

Mr Wong added that vaccinations and booster shots remain a "key strategy" to defend against Omicron. People who still have not been jabbed were reminded to do so right away. 

"Without the vaccine, you will face restrictions on your movement, including not being able to go back to the office. 

"These restrictions are necessary to protect you from severe illness due to the virus," he said. 

For those who have already received their primary jabs, they were reminded to get their booster shots when the time comes. As for children aged 12 and below, vaccinations are now being rolled out with due dispatch, said Mr Wong. 

The Ministry of Health (MOH) on Sunday said that it expects a new wave of local cases "soon" given the higher transmissibility of the Omicron variant.

"In the coming days and weeks, we should expect more community cases, and rapid doubling of cases. This is again a process we need to go through, in order to live with COVID-19," it added. 

Singapore has reported a total of 546 Omicron cases as of Dec 25. This figure comprises 443 imported cases and 103 local cases.

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Source: CNA/lk(zl)

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