Singapore 'quietly confident' in dealing with Omicron COVID-19 wave, needs to prepare for next mutation: Lawrence Wong
SINGAPORE: Singapore is “quietly confident” in dealing with this Omicron COVID-19 wave, and should be able to take “some decisive steps” towards the easing of measures after the wave peaks, Finance Minister Lawrence Wong said on Monday (Feb 21).
COVID-19 infection numbers are at an all-time high and may go beyond 20,000 a day, he said in an interview with CNBC.
“But because of our very high vaccination rate and the boosters, the vast majority of infected persons have milder symptoms, so they do not need oxygen and ICU care,” added Mr Wong, who is also co-chair of the COVID-19 multi ministry task force.
“In fact, the situation in our hospitals with regard to the ICU wards (is) under control.
“So if this situation continues like that, we believe that we should be able to take some decisive steps towards easing once we have passed this present peak of the Omicron wave.”
When asked if Omicron subvariant BA.2 has arrived in Singapore, the minister said the Government will “constantly and continually monitor” variants and mutations. It currently does not have "any indications" yet for the BA.2 subvariant.
“But I am quite sure before too long there will be a new mutation around the world and it will come to Singapore. It may not be now, but maybe six months later," said Mr Wong.
Singapore will have to prepare for that new mutation.
“Hopefully when that new mutation appears in the world, it will be milder than Omicron, and I think that would give us confidence that we are seeing the end of the pandemic,” he said.
“But we can never rule out the fact that it may be a more dangerous or deadly variant. So, we just have to be prepared for that.”
Singapore’s strategy is still vaccinations, boosters and therapeutics, Mr Wong said.
This strategy remains “sound” and the Government has “a clear path towards getting back to life as normal”.
The vast majority of people in Singapore who test positive for COVID-19 can isolate and recuperate at home, he said.
There are some who still need care, and hospitals doctors and general practitioners remain “quite busy”, he noted.
“But the good news is that the people needing ICU care, the serious cases are not high. They are within the limits that we have provided for and within the capacity that we have today,” Mr Wong said.
When asked if Singapore is planning a fourth vaccine shot or a pill, he said the Government is studying the options with scientists at the moment.
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