MPs file questions on Omicron, Covid-19 vaccinations for kids, VTLs and family violence

The next Parliament sitting will be on Jan 10. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - The Republic's public health strategy against the Omicron variant and the roll-out of Covid-19 vaccinations for children are among the key issues to be discussed when Parliament sits next Monday (Jan 10).

Eighteen questions have been filed on these topics as Omicron cases rise here, accounting for close to 1 in 5 local cases last week.

The multi-ministry task force tackling the Covid-19 pandemic warned on Wednesday that Singapore could see a larger wave of Omicron cases in the coming weeks than with the Delta variant last year.

Ms Foo Mee Har (West Coast GRC) asked for an update on Singapore's ability to cope with the increasing number of Omicron infections, and details of imported cases by country of origin.

The Workers' Party's He Ting Ru (Sengkang GRC) asked about plans to offer non-mRNA Covid-19 vaccines to children in the age groups of five to 11 and 12 to 18, and whether the Government plans to apply vaccination-differentiated measures to children between age five and 11.

There were also eight questions filed on the topic of vaccinated travel lanes (VTLs) and border controls, such as by Ms Poh Li San (Sembawang GRC) on whether additional polymerase chain reaction tests will be required several days after arrival into Singapore for VTL travellers, in particular those from countries with high numbers of Omicron cases.

Health Minister Ong Ye Kung said at a press conference on Jan 5 that a vast majority of the 2,252 Omicron cases Singapore has recorded so far are vaccinated travellers, although the variant is already in the community and could multiply quickly.

Other issues raised by MPs include support for those who have experienced family or sexual violence, and the attrition rate of healthcare workers here.

The House will also debate eight Bills in its first meeting this year, including the Women's Charter (Amendment) Bill and Gambling Duties Bill.

The proposed amendments to the Women's Charter could allow couples in Singapore to divorce amicably without pinning blame on one party and instead take joint responsibility for the breakdown of a marriage.

The Gambling Duties Bill aims to improve the consistency of tax administration and enforcement across gambling-related taxes and align penalties with similar offences under other tax laws.

Next Monday's Parliament sitting will also hear an adjournment motion by Non-Constituency MP Hazel Poa from the Progress Singapore Party on vaccination-differentiated safe management measures (VDS).

Earlier this week, party colleague and fellow NCMP Leong Mun Wai said in a Facebook post that the party has been "monitoring with concern the growing intensity of the VDS measures".

One concern is whether VDS measures will be extended to children as well.

The Ministry of Health said last month that it presently had no plans to implement VDS for children aged 12 and under.

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