The Multi-Ministry Task Force (MTF) confirmed during a press conference on Nov. 30 that no cases of the Omicron Covid-19 variant have yet been detected locally in Singapore.
However, as more countries have reported cases over the past few days, the MTF is monitoring the situation closely, and is checking with health authorities worldwide to determine the variant’s characteristics.
Additional precautionary measures will be taken to reduce the probability of the spread of the Omicron variant into Singapore as necessary.
"Variant of concern"
In a press release on Nov. 30, the MTF shared that there has since been a rapid increase in the proportion of cases that are infected by the Omicron variant in South Africa.
As of Nov. 29, 2021, the variant has also been detected in at least 13 other countries.
The number of cases globally is expected to increase as more countries enhance their surveillance for the variant.
Early data suggests vaccines effective
The MTF will continue to monitor the situation closely, to look out for more information on the Omicron variant, including "transmissibility, incubation period, infectious duration, severity of illness, and the efficacy of existing vaccines".
It added that in terms of vaccine efficacy, early data suggests that current vaccines should remain effective against severe disease and death.
However, more studies will be needed to fully understand the impact of the Omicron variant on existing measures, vaccines and treatments.
Minister of Health Ong Ye Kung added that "insurance is now the existing vaccines", sharing:
"Doctors from South Africa have observed that amongst the Omicron cases with severe symptoms, 65 per cent are unvaccinated, and the remaining 35 per cent are partially vaccinated.
These are very brief, early data, but it suggests that the vaccine could still be effective and underscores the importance of vaccines. If anything, it is a much more valuable insurance against a big unknown confronting the world now. So please continue to get your vaccines and booster shots."
On Nov. 29, the Ministry of Health (MOH) had confirmed in its daily Covid-19 report that two travellers on a Singapore Airlines transit flight from Singapore to Sydney had tested positive for the new Omicron variant.
The two cases are passengers who arrived in Sydney from Southern Africa on Singapore Airlines (SIA) flight SQ211 on Sunday, Nov. 28.
According to MOH, most of the travellers on the same SIA flight had remained in the transit area at Changi Airport until their departure for Sydney on Nov. 28, and did not enter Singapore or visit other areas in Changi Airport.
Seven had disembarked – of whom six are currently on 10-day Stay-Home Notice (SHN) at a dedicated facility, and one who was a close contact of an infected individual has been quarantined.
Contact tracing is ongoing for airport staff who may have come into transient contact with the cases.
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Top image via Lean Jinghui