SINGAPORE - Singapore has witnessed a 23 per cent week-on-week increase in Covid-19 community infections, with the rise largely driven by an increased spread of the newer Omicron subvariants BA.4 and BA.5.
Although the BA.2 subvariant still accounts for the bulk of Singapore’s Covid-19 infections, the proportion of BA.4 and BA.5 infections is rising, the Ministry of Health (MOH) said in an update on Tuesday (June 21).
About 30 per cent of the Covid-19 cases in the community in the past week were cases with BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants, as compared to 17 per cent, 8 per cent and 3 per cent for the previous three weeks respectively.
The BA.5 subvariant alone is estimated to contribute to 25 per cent of all cases so far this week, MOH said. The surge in BA.4 and BA.5 cases is likely to continue, driven by their higher transmissibility compared to BA.2.
There were 7,109 new Covid-19 cases recorded here on Tuesday, more than double the 3,220 cases on Monday.
Earlier this month, Health Minister Ong Ye Kung cited the situation in South Africa, which was riding its fifth infection outbreak driven by the two Omicron subvariants BA.4 and BA.5, and said that the next Covid-19 infection wave could arrive in Singapore in a “matter of months, maybe July, maybe August”.
Currently, international and local evidence show that the severity of BA.4 and BA.5 infections is similar to that of earlier Omicron strains.
The current safe management measures, including the requirement to wear masks while indoors and vaccination-differentiated measures for some higher-risk activities, will remain, MOH added.
“MOH will continue genomic surveillance for circulating subvariants in Singapore, including requiring some infected individuals to take an additional government-funded polymerase chain reaction swab for genomic sequencing,” the ministry said.
While there has not been a significant increase of severe Covid-19 cases in the hospitals, and the number of cases in intensive care units (ICUs) remain low, Singapore’s public hospitals continue to be busy caring for non-Covid-19 patients, and many hospitals are experiencing high bed occupancies, MOH said.
“To ensure that precious emergency department (ED) resources are available to patients who need urgent emergency care, we strongly advise the public to only seek medical treatment at a hospital’s ED for serious or life-threatening emergencies.
"Patients with minor ailments are strongly urged to seek medical attention at general practitioner clinics,” MOH said.
Given the current Covid-19 situation, MOH strongly recommends seniors aged 70 years and above (and especially those aged 80 years and above) to take their second booster shot.
All other eligible persons should complete their primary vaccination series and get at least their first booster as soon as possible, MOH added.
MOH will soon be deploying mobile vaccination teams to help seniors get boosted.
From Thursday (June 23), five new Joint Testing and Vaccination Centres (JTVCs) will begin vaccination and Covid-19 testing operations.
Located in Ang Mo Kio, Bukit Merah, Sengkang, Woodlands and Yishun, the five new facilities will bring the total to 10 JTVCs across the island.
These centres will offer the Pfizer-BioNTech/Comirnaty and Moderna/Spikevax vaccines. JTVC Bishan will offer the Pfizer-BioNTech/Comirnaty and Novavax/Nuvaxovid vaccines.
Those aged 12 years and above can walk in to any of the JTVCs to receive their vaccination and booster, MOH added.
The full list of JTVCs can be found at this website.
With more JTVCs being set up, MOH will consolidate its resources and free up space for other uses. It will close the Vaccination Centre (VC) at Raffles City Convention Centre on July 18. The VC will accept appointments made via the National Appointment System and walk-ins for vaccination until July 18.