Once COVID-19 cases start to rise steeply, Singapore could see 3,000 Omicron infections within a couple of weeks, says Ong Ye Kung
Riaumag.com —SINGAPORE: The current COVID-19 measures will only be tightened as a “last resort” when Singapore’s healthcare system is under heavy strain, said Health Minister Ong Ye Kung in Parliament on Monday (Jan 10).
“It is the (multi-ministry task force’s) hope that we can ride through the Omicron wave with the current safe management measures,” he said in response to questions on whether stricter rules will be put in place.
“If we have to tighten the restrictions, it will be as a last resort when our healthcare system is under severe pressure.”
The task force had earlier said that the existing rules, such as limiting group sizes to five people, will remain during the Chinese New Year period.
Citing Singapore’s experience with the Delta wave last year, Mr Ong also noted that even after it subsided, authorities had refrained from “being too jubilant” and over-relaxing restrictions. “That would have been a mistake,” he said.
LARGER OMICRON WAVE EXPECTED
Singapore can expect an infection wave “several times larger” than the one caused by Delta, said Mr Ong, citing the Omicron variant’s higher transmissibility.
“If Delta infections reached a sustained incidence of about 3,000 cases a day, Omicron could perhaps reach 10,000 to 15,000 cases a day, or more.
“Cases are likely to double every two to three days. So once cases start to rise steeply, within a couple of weeks, we may see 3,000 Omicron cases a day.”
But Mr Ong also pointed to global studies that have shown that the Omicron variant causes less severe illness than Delta – with fewer cases being admitted to hospital or requiring emergency care.
“This has also been borne out by our own experience. In Singapore, we have recorded 4,322 Omicron infections so far, including 308 seniors aged 60 and above,” he said.
“Eight needed oxygen supplementation and all of them have been taken off oxygen after a short few days. None required ICU care as yet.”
If these infections had instead been caused by Delta, authorities would expect 50 to 60 patients needing oxygen supplementation, ICU care or to die, he added.
But Mr Ong cautioned that Singapore must be careful in interpreting these observations, as “it is early days and the circumstances of each country are different”.