More Omicron cases picked up in Singapore; community spread a matter of time: MOH

Singapore authorities have detected 65 confirmed Omicron cases among travellers entering the country, and six cases in the community. ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

SINGAPORE - More Omicron cases have been picked up in Singapore as the Covid-19 variant spreads across many countries and regions, the Ministry of Health (MOH) said on Wednesday (Dec 22) in announcing a freeze on vaccinated-travel lane (VTL) ticket sales.

It noted that, thus far, an enhanced testing regime for travellers has helped the authorities to detect 65 confirmed Omicron cases.

"With aggressive contact tracing and ring-fencing measures, we have, for now, been able to limit onward community transmission. But it is a matter of time before the Omicron variant spreads in our community," MOH added.

Singapore has detected six cases in the community.

Meanwhile, a new study from Britain showed that Omicron infections are no less severe than Delta.

Researchers at Imperial College London found no evidence that Omicron is milder than Delta when comparing 11,329 people with confirmed or likely Omicron infections with nearly 200,000 people infected with other variants.

The odds of an individual being reinfected with Omicron after having already been infected once is 5.4 times higher than with Delta.

Britain is in the grips of a surge in cases of the Omicron variant, with hospitalisations rising steeply and Prime Minister Boris Johnson describing the situation as "extremely difficult".

Singapore will stop all VTL ticket sales starting from Dec 23 till Jan 20 next year.

VTL quotas and ticket sales for travel after Jan 20 will also be temporarily reduced, said MOH.

This is to limit the country's exposure to imported cases of the Omicron variant.

"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," said MOH.

It added that it will continue to monitor developments closely and update the policy as the situation changes.

On Tuesday, MOH said a suspected Omicron cluster had emerged at an Anytime Fitness gym outlet in Bukit Timah, with two cases testing preliminarily positive and the results of a third person pending.

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