53 of 65 Omicron cases detected in Singapore as at Monday arrived via VTL

More than 90 per cent of the Omicron cases were returning Singaporeans, permanent residents and long-term residents. ST PHOTO: GAVIN FOO

SINGAPORE - Fifty-three of the 65 confirmed imported Omicron cases detected in Singapore as at Monday (Dec 20) had arrived via the vaccinated travel lane (VTL), said the Ministry of Health (MOH).

Of these cases, 41 were detected through on-arrival polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests, while the remaining 12 were detected through the Republic's enhanced testing regime.

More than 90 per cent of the Omicron cases who returned via the VTL were returning Singaporeans, permanent residents and long-term residents, said MOH, in response to queries from The Straits Times.

On Wednesday, MOH announced a month-long suspension of the sale of new VTL flight and bus tickets, as the number of imported cases hit a high of 76 cases since the emergence of the Omicron variant.

These measures, which apply from Thursday (Dec 23) until Jan 20, mean that airlines will no longer be allowed to sell new VTL flight tickets for travel into Singapore.

The suspension of sales also applies to those travelling on the Singapore-Malaysia land VTL.

However, eligible travellers who bought tickets earlier will still be allowed to travel via the quarantine-free travel scheme.

VTL travellers who do not adhere to the mandatory seven-day Covid-19 testing regime will face a stay-home notice and enforcement action under the Infectious Diseases Act.

The ministry said that all close contacts of both suspected and confirmed Omicron cases will be placed under 10-day quarantine at dedicated facilities to minimise transmission.

MOH said: "Our border measures will help to buy us time to study and understand the Omicron variant, and to strengthen our defences, including enhancing our healthcare capacity and getting more people vaccinated and boosted."

In an update on its website on Thursday, MOH announced 322 new Covid-19 infections and two deaths. This brings Singapore’s Covid-19 death toll to 820. 

The number of infections is down from the 335 cases recorded on Wednesday, and it is the 21st day in a row that the number of new coronavirus cases has fallen below 1,000, according to statistics on the MOH website.

    Overall, there were 226 cases in the community, seven in migrant worker dormitories and 89 imported cases reported on Thursday.

    The intensive care unit (ICU) utilisation rate was 50 per cent, down from 52.7 per cent on Wednesday.

    There are 419 cases in hospital, with 20 in critical condition, six under close monitoring and 50 requiring oxygen support.

      The weekly infection growth rate was 0.57, up from 0.54 on Wednesday.

      This figure refers to the ratio of community cases in the past week over the week before.

      A weekly infection growth rate that is consistently below one shows that the number of weekly new Covid-19 cases is falling.

      The growth rate has been below one since Nov 13.

      The total number of cases here now stands at 277,042.

      • Additional reporting by Toh Ting Wei

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