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Singapore likely to see ‘significant’ Omicron wave

THE STAR – Singapore is likely to soon see a “significant wave” of COVID-19 cases as the more infectious Omicron variant spreads through the community, which could strain its healthcare capacity.

To protect seniors and healthcare workers, the authorities will suspend in-person visits to all hospital wards and residential care homes for a period of four weeks, from January 24 to February 20.

It will also expand the national booster programme to cover those aged 12 to 17, and adjust health protocols to allow more groups of patients assessed to be low-risk to self-isolate and recover at home, including children aged five to 11.

Existing safe management measures, such as dining in groups of five, will also be maintained through the Chinese New Year festive period to lower the risk of transmission and reduce the stress on the healthcare system, said Trade and Industry Minister Gan Kim Yong on Friday.

Gan noted at a press conference that about 70 per cent of daily cases are now of the Omicron variant, which has become the dominant strain in place of Delta. This proportion could be even higher – close to 90 per cent or more, he added.

So far, most of the Omicron cases have been mild, especially among those who have been fully vaccinated and even more so for those who have received a booster shot, said the minister, who co-chairs the multi-ministry task force handling the pandemic.