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448 Omicron COVID-19 cases detected in Singapore to date; new cluster linked to bar on River Valley Road

448 Omicron COVID-19 cases detected in Singapore to date; new cluster linked to bar on River Valley Road

Street view of the Vinyl Bar along River Valley Road. (Screengrab: Google Street View)

SINGAPORE: A total of 448 confirmed Omicron COVID-19 cases have been detected in Singapore to date, comprising 369 imported cases and 79 local infections, the Ministry of Health (MOH) said on Saturday (Dec 25).

The Health Ministry also announced that a cluster of 10 Omicron COVID-19 cases linked to a bar on River Valley Road has been detected.

The primary case in the cluster, Case 280860, is a traveller who arrived in Singapore on Dec 14 from the United States via a vaccinated travel lane (VTL) flight. His on-arrival test was negative for COVID-19, and he tested positive for COVID-19 on Dec 18, MOH said.

The traveller met a colleague, identified as case 281477, on Dec 15 and this colleague subsequently visited The Vinyl Bar at 266 River Valley Road on Dec 17. 

The Health Ministry’s epidemiological investigations found that Case 281477 "likely transmitted the virus" to a staff member at the bar, identified as Case 281876, as well as three patrons who were at the bar that evening, known as Cases 282091, 282143 and 282178.

“Case 282091 then went on to infect four household members,” MOH said.

All 10 cases linked to the cluster are fully vaccinated and have mild or no symptoms, the Health Ministry said, adding that it is ringfencing the cases through contact tracing.

"Staff and visitors of The Vinyl Bar who are identified to be close contacts of the cases will be placed on quarantine," said MOH. 

"As a precautionary measure, other staff and visitors to the bar at the same time as Case 281477 on Dec 17 will be contacted by MOH for a one-time targeted polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test."

All visitors to the bar are advised to monitor their health closely and minimise social interactions as far as possible for 14 days from their date of visit. 

"They are encouraged to see a doctor immediately if they feel unwell," said MOH.

The Vinyl Bar said in response to queries from CNA that it is closed for deep cleaning, disinfection and sanitation, and that all staff will undergo PCR testing.

HIGH TRANSMISSIBILITY

Singapore is picking up more Omicron cases due to “the rapid spread of the variant across many countries/regions”, said the Health Ministry.

“Given its high transmissibility, it is a matter of time before the Omicron variant spreads in our community,” it added.

“It is important for everyone to continue to play their part and remain vigilant to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, and to come forward to receive your vaccination or booster dose when offered.”

Singapore confirmed its first two Omicron cases on Dec 6, both imported cases. On Dec 14, it reported its first two confirmed local Omicron cases, both passenger service staff members at Changi Airport.

MOH said on Friday that COVID-19 cases that test positive for the S-gene target failure will be categorised as Omicron cases without additional whole-genome sequencing. 

"Based on our local experience, if a person tests positive for (S-gene target failure), it is very likely that it is an Omicron variant," the ministry said.

"This is aligned to the practice in other countries, and does not change our existing public health actions which are already triggered on the basis of detecting (S-gene target failure)."

Due to the change, the number of Omicron cases "will see a one-time substantial increase from the last update", the Health Ministry said on Friday.

Singapore has frozen all new ticket sales for VTL flights and buses until Jan 20, 2022, amid the "rapid spread" of Omicron infections in many countries.

VTL quotas and ticket sales for travel will also be temporarily reduced after Jan 20, 2022, the Health Ministry announced earlier this week.

Singapore has VTLs with more than 20 countries and regions, including Australia, Germany, Indonesia, Italy, Malaysia, South Korea, Thailand, the United Kingdom and the United States.

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Source: CNA/kg(mi)

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