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No need to tighten Singapore's COVID-19 measures for now, adjustments will be made 'if need be': Lawrence Wong

SINGAPORE: There is no need to tighten Singapore’s COVID-19 safe management measures at this stage, but adjustments will be made "if need be", said Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong on Monday (Jun 27). 

The recent surge in cases has been mainly driven by the newer Omicron subvariants known as BA.4 and BA.5, he said.

While they are more transmissible, the severity of infections linked to these subvariants appears to be similar to that of earlier strains of Omicron. 

“We must expect cases to continue rising in the coming weeks. Fortunately, there is no evidence of increased severity with this subvariant and the overall hospitalisation situation remains stable,” said Mr Wong, who is also co-chair of the multi-ministry taskforce on COVID-19. 

“So, for now, our assessment is that we will be able to ride through this wave based on our current posture. In other words, we do not need to tighten our safe management measures at this stage,” he said, adding that the country will monitor the situation closely, including the infection trajectory over the coming weeks, disease severity and the hospital situation.

If needed, the Government will have to make adjustments, he added. 

Mr Wong said the hospital situation currently remains stable.

"We think it will be so with this wave but we will monitor closely and provide further updates as and when necessary."

He added that there will be another round of ART kit distribution sometime next month, with every household to receive 10 kits.

“It’s always a highly fluid and dynamic situation and we will have to be prepared for any contingencies,” said Mr Wong.

“What's important, of course, is that all of us must continue to do our part to ride through this wave safely. Vaccinations and boosters remain very effective and they offer good protection against these Omicron subvariants,” he said.

“In fact, for most people, you will need to do at least three shots of the vaccine.”

IMPORTANT FOR SENIORS TO BE VACCINATED

To date, 70,000 seniors have yet to receive their third vaccine shot. 

On Monday, three mobile vaccination teams were deployed to locations in the heartlands - Ansar, Telok Blangah and Nee Soon - for seniors to walk in and get their shots. 

To encourage more to get vaccinated, Health Minister Ong Ye Kung said this will be expanded to 25 mobile vaccination teams in the next two to three weeks to make it more convenient for seniors to get their COVID-19 vaccination or booster shots.

These teams will stay in one location for two to three days, before moving to another spot, eventually covering up to 50 sites.

Seniors aged 60 and above will be given priority to walk in and get their shots with the mobile vaccination teams. 

As for those aged 59 and below, their vaccination slots will be allocated on a first-come-first-served basis, subject to venue space and vaccine availability.

The deployment of mobile vaccination teams to the heartlands was first announced in July last year, as part of efforts to intensify outreach to seniors and encourage them to get vaccinated.

At the time, less than half of the total population had completed both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, according to the MOH’s COVID-19 situation report dated Jul 15 last year. While around 80 per cent of those aged between 60 and 69 had completed their vaccination, the percentage for those aged 70 and above was lower, with figures hovering around 65 per cent. 

Last week, five new Joint Testing and Vaccination Centres (JTVCs) began vaccination and COVID-19 testing operations, bringing the total number of such centres across the island to 10.

Located in Ang Mo Kio, Bukit Merah, Sengkang, Woodlands and Yishun, the five new JTVCs offer the Pfizer-BioNTech/Comirnaty and Moderna/Spikevax vaccines.

Those aged 12 and above may walk into any of the centres to receive their vaccination and booster.

When asked if the rest of the population would require a fourth jab, Mr Wong said there will come a time when that becomes necessary.

“There will be a need eventually but as of now, we are not recommending the fourth jab for everyone. We are focusing on the seniors first, 80 and above,” he said.

For those aged between 50 and 80, the fourth jab will be offered though it is not recommended yet, he added. 

“But even before we talk about offering a fourth jab to everyone or recommending it for everyone, let us get the people who have not even gotten their third jabs first because we want the vast majority of Singaporeans, those who are eligible, to get at least three jabs.”

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Source: CNA/vc(ac)

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