Over half of S'pore's population have been boosted, about 42,000 get Covid-19 shots daily

From Feb 14, those aged 18 and above will be required to get a Covid-19 booster jab to maintain their fully vaccinated status. ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

SINGAPORE - Over half, or 51 per cent, of the total population in Singapore have taken their booster shots, Health Minister Ong Ye Kung said in a Facebook post marking the milestone on Sunday (Jan 16).

Noting that more individuals are stepping forward for Covid-19 vaccine boosters, Mr Ong said: "Now, about 42,000 individuals are getting boosted a day. This is a stark increase from 25,000 daily in mid- to late December.

"Boosters restore vaccine protection against Covid-19 infection and severe illness from Omicron."

Earlier this month, the Government revised its policy and announced that from Feb 14, those aged 18 and above will be required to get a Covid-19 booster jab to maintain their fully vaccinated status.

A person's fully vaccinated status will lapse nine months after the last dose of his primary vaccination series.

Mr Ong had also previously stressed that the Omicron wave could be several times larger than last year's Delta wave, given the variant's increased transmissibility.

Projections show that while Delta infections hit a sustained incidence of about 3,000 cases daily, Omicron could reach 10,000 to 15,000 cases a day or more.

Vaccination and boosters will thus remain key while Singapore is preparing to ramp up capacity and manpower at public treatment and recovery facilities such as hospitals, said Mr Ong in Parliament on Jan 10.

However, despite the emergence of Omicron, he reiterated that the key objective "remains to live with Covid-19 as an endemic disease".

Singapore began treating the virus as endemic by opening up to travel via Vaccinated Travel Lane arrangements, which allow for quarantine-free travel, from October last year. However, ticket sales have been temporarily curbed until Jan 20 to buy the country time to gear up for the next wave of infections.

Healthcare protocols have also evolved to put less strain on hospitals.

As at Jan 6, general practitioners now play a bigger role in deciding which Covid-19 patients require closer supervision, and which ones can safely recover at home.

The shift came amid growing evidence that the Omicron variant, although more transmissible, is less severe.

As at Saturday, Singapore's Omicron cases are inching towards the 1,000 threshold, with 956 new cases reported.

Experts said Singapore's Omicron wave is likely to see a fairly sharp peak before tapering off.

"I would anticipate that we will see a fairly sharp peak, like what South Africa has had, and it will decay after that," infectious disease modelling expert Alex Cook, an associate professor at the National University of Singapore's Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health, told The Sunday Times.

"It will only be after that point that we get to a stable number, with lower numbers of infections."

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