The Big Story: Don't be unduly alarmed by local Omicron cases and clusters, says expert

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The Big Story, The Straits Times' weekday online news programme, follows up on Singapore's first local case of the Omicron Covid-19 variant. The Ministry of Health said on Thursday (Dec 9) that the case is a front-line worker at Changi Airport, and tested preliminarily positive for the variant.

She was one of two new Omicron cases reported on Thursday. The other was imported - a 46-year-old Singapore permanent resident who returned to Singapore via a vaccinated travel lane from Germany on Dec 6.

After testing negative in her on-arrival polymerase chain reaction test, she developed a runny nose a day later and sought medical attention. She tested positive for Covid-19 on Dec 8 and was confirmed to have signs of the Omicron variant the next day.

Dr Asok Kurup, an infectious disease physician at Mount Elizabeth Hospital, says that while Singapore should anticipate local Omicron cases and clusters, the public should not be unduly alarmed as there are systems in place.

In other Covid-19 news, Singapore has signed an agreement with AstraZeneca to buy its Evusheld antibody drug, as a treatment for the disease.

Supply is expected to arrive here by the end of the year.

Looking globally, US President Joe Biden warned of the need to vigilantly protect democratic values at the start of a two-day summit for democracy that has stoked tensions with China and Russia.

In this week's Asian Insider segment, US bureau chief Nirmal Ghosh discusses why Singapore was left out of the summit.

On Thursday, Ambassador-at-Large Tommy Koh said it is because the US Democratic Party has never accepted Singapore as a democracy. Prof Koh had made these remarks at the launch of a Straits Times Press book on the US through a Singapore perspective.

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