The Big Story: S'pore 'as ready as could be' for next Covid-19 wave, says expert

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Catch the latest news reports on The Big Story, The Straits Times' weekday online news programme.

Is Singapore ready for another Covid-19 wave?

Health Minister Ong Ye Kung said Singapore cannot afford to repeat what it did during the Omicron wave, when many people were taken to public hospitals because the facilities in which they were being cared for could not manage them properly.

Speaking at the Health Ministry's annual work plan seminar on Thursday (June 2), he cited South Africa, which has gone through five Covid-19 waves, as an example.

Mr Ong says: "If we imagine BA4 or BA5 will come to Asia, or Singapore, in a matter of months, maybe July or August. But looking at South Africa's experience, we can be quietly optimistic because our resilience is high and our vaccination coverage is very high."

Professor Dale Fisher, a senior consultant at NUH's Division of Infectious Diseases, discusses how big of a threat the BA.4 and BA.5 sub-variants are.

Separately, fuel pump prices have climbed to new highs again to breach $4 for the first time. This comes on the back of an imminent ban on Russian oil and increased demand as world economies return to full swing.

According to Fuel Kaki, posted prices of 98-octane petrols are between $3.73 (Sinopec) and $3.82 (Shell) - up from $3.64-$3.74 - while the so-called premium grade of 98-octane fuels is going for between $3.86 (Sinopec) and $4.04 (Shell).

In other headlines, a man shot and killed two women in the parking lot of a church in Iowa state on Thursday and then turned the gun on himself, police said. This incident adds three more dead to the toll in a series of recent shootings that have rocked the United States.

Another shooting on Thursday left two people in Racine, Wisconsin, wounded. They were attending a burial at a cemetery.

Also on the show, Mr Mathias Heng, a Singapore-born Australian international photojournalist who spent two months in Ukraine. He shares his experience taking photos of the ongoing crisis in the country.

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