Singapore has detected 16 cases of Covid-19 caused by the Omicron variant to date, with 14 imported cases and two local cases, according to the republic’s multi-ministry task force (MTF) on Covid-19.
The taskforce said eight new confirmed Omicron cases were detected today while six previously reported preliminary Omicron cases have been confirmed by genomic sequencing.
“The new Omicron variant has now been detected in more than 60 countries around the world. We expect it to continue spreading to many other countries over time,” said MTF’s co-chair Gan Kim Yong at a virtual press conference.
“We will continue to monitor the global situation closely,” Gan, who is also the republic’s trade and industry minister, said.
Gan said the two local cases in Singapore were airport passenger service staff.
“We have not detected any transmission within the community, yet it is only a matter of time before this happens given the experience of other countries. This means it can lead to another surge in cases because of the highly infectious nature of the Omicron variant.
“We must therefore prepare ourselves for such a scenario,” he said.
Gan added that vaccination remained Singapore’s main defence against Covid-19, including the Omicron variant.
“We are setting up our booster programme to ensure that our population continues to be protected against severe outcomes,” he said.
Singapore on Dec 11 announced that it would be rolling out the vaccination programme to younger children, aged 5 to 11 years before the end of the year.
According to the MTF, all the 16 Omicron cases are fully vaccinated, with no or mild symptoms with 13 cases recovering in isolation wards at the National Centre for Infectious Diseases (NCID), and three cases discharged.
“Thus far, all cases have had minimal interactions in the community prior to being isolated, and we have not detected linked cases in the community,” it said.
The MTF said active contact tracing is being conducted to ringfence the close contacts of these cases and reduce onward transmission once infection with the Omicron variant is suspected, through the detection of S-gene target failure in their test results.
“This includes quarantine at designated facilities,” it said, adding that the National Public Health Laboratory subsequently confirms infection with the Omicron variant through genomic sequencing of the test samples.