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Singapore must brace for ‘much bigger’ COVID-19 infection wave from Omicron

SINGAPORE (CNA) – Singapore must brace for a “much bigger” COVID-19 infection wave from Omicron compared to that from the Delta variant, Singapore Health Minister Ong Ye Kung said on Wednesday.

At its peak, the number of Omicron cases could be “a few times” more than the approximately 3,000 daily cases that the Delta variant was registering in October and November last year, Ong said at a COVID-19 multi-ministry task force press conference.

Putting a number to the possible manifold increase, Ministry of Health director of medical services Associate Professor Kenneth Mak said that the Omicron wave could reach 15,000 cases a day in a “worse-case scenario”.

At the highest during the Delta variant peak last year, the number of cases surpassed 5,000 cases.

Ong said that while Delta infections were doubling in six to eight days, Omicron infections may double in two to three days.

Office workers walk out for lunch break at Raffles Place financial business district in Singapore. PHOTO: AFP

However, the “silver lining” is that studies coming out of countries like South Africa, the United States and Canada is that infections from Omicron are less severe than that from the Delta variant, he said.

Ong noted a similar situation in Singapore. He said of the 2,252 Omicron cases in Singapore so far, three required oxygen supplementation, but were taken off the support within three days and are recovering. None of the cases required intensive care.

Over the past week, Singapore’s daily COVID-19 case numbers have been around 200 on average, with 16 cases currently in intensive care. These figures are significantly lower than the numbers at their peak a few months ago, “indicating that the recent wave of Delta infections has subsided”, the Singapore Ministry of Health (MOH) said in a separate statement.

However, Singapore has seen a rise in the total number of confirmed Omicron cases over the past week, even as the Delta wave subsides, MOH said.

Over the past week, Singapore detected 1,281 confirmed Omicron cases, comprising 1,048 imported cases and 233 local cases. This makes up around 18 per cent of local cases in the last week, MOH said.

”With higher transmissibility of the Omicron variant, we are likely to experience another wave of community infections soon.

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