About 2,600 Omicron infections imported into S'pore: Iswaran

Most of the cases are Singaporeans, PRs and long-term residents, according to the minister.

Matthias Ang | January 11, 2022, 02:00 PM

Follow us on Telegram for the latest updates: https://t.me/mothershipsg

There have been about 2,600 imported cases of Omicron in Singapore, Minister for Transport S Iswaran said in Parliament on Jan. 10.

This comes up to around 60 per cent of the total number of Omicron cases in Singapore, which stands at 4,322, according to Health Minister Ong Ye Kung.

Most of the cases are Singaporeans, PRs and long-term residents

The key sources of the imported cases were from the U.S. and the UK, each contributing 16 per cent of cases and India contributing 11 per cent.

Iswaran further highlighted that the bulk of the imported cases were Singapore Citizens, PR and long term visit pass holders returning to Singapore.

As for short-term visitors, they made up less than 10 per cent of all Omicron cases.

The minister also added that these numbers "broadly corresponded" to the volume of travellers on the Vaccinated Traveller Lanes (VTLs) and is also influenced by the incidence of Omicron in these countries.

What are some of the current measures in place?

Iswaran added that the expansion of the VTL scheme had been halted, with the launch of the scheme to Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) also deferred.

In addition, the government has decided to maintain daily quota of VTL air travellers at 10,000 instead of increasing it to 15,000 as earlier intended.

The sale of new VTL flight and bus tickets into Singapore has also been frozen from December 23, 2021 to January 20, 2022.

The testing regime for VTL travellers has also been tightened, he said.

Apart from pre-departure and on-arrival Covid-19 tests, VTL travellers are required to undergo daily self-administered antigen rapid tests (ARTs) on Days 2 to 7 of their arrival in Singapore, and those who test positive are required to undergo a confirmatory Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test.

In acknowledging that such measures may have caused some inconvenience for travellers, Iswaran elaborated that these are necessary for giving Singapore valuable time to study and understand the Omicron variant.

The minister added:

"These were calibrated moves that balanced the need to manage the risk of imported Omicron cases while minimising disruption to travellers who had already made VTL bookings to enter Singapore."

Air travel will take several years to recover to pre-pandemic levels but the government is confident

Iswaran also said that while air travel will take several years to recover, the government remains confident of the long-term potential of air travel and is "resolutely committed" to working with Changi Airport group and airlines partners to rebuild Singapore's status as an international air hub.

On the growth of air travel in Singapore for 2021, Iswaran pointed out:

"Compared to three per cent at the start of 2021, passenger traffic at Changi increased to about 15 per cent of pre-Covid levels by end-December 2021, largely aided by our VTL schemes."a&w singapore,

The minister further cited a study by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and Oxford Economics projected international passenger volume at the end of 2022 to recover to about 55 per cent of 2019’s levels, up from about 20 per cent at the end of 2021.

"Therefore, barring unexpected setbacks like Omicron, we anticipate further recovery in 2022," he said.

Follow and listen to our podcast here

Top image via Changi Airport Facebook