S'pore confident it can cope with Omicron Covid-19 variant, boosters key part of strategy: PM Lee

SINGAPORE – While Singapore is not yet out of the woods, it is confident that it can cope with the Omicron variant, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Monday (Dec 13).

This is because with vaccinations and boosters, Singapore is in a much stronger position today to deal with Covid-19, he added.

He noted that Singapore is starting to see encouraging signs in its Covid-19 journey.

“The surge in cases over the last three months is subsiding. We’ve protected our healthcare system and kept fatalities low,” he said.

The number of Covid-19 cases reported by the Ministry of Health (MOH) daily has been on the decline.

Since the middle of last month, the number of new cases has fallen from around 2,000 or 3,000 a day to fewer than 1,000.

The number of patients in the intensive care unit (ICU) has also decreased over the last few weeks.

There were 30 critically ill cases in the ICU on Dec 12, compared with 75 on Nov 12. The ICU utilisation rate on Dec 12 was at 46.9 per cent.

On Monday, PM Lee said: “Now, we are preparing for the impact of the Omicron variant. Booster shots of the vaccine will be a key part of our strategy.”

He was speaking at the launch of the latest tranche of Community Development Council (CDC) vouchers to be given out to 1.3 million Singaporean households.

MOH had, earlier this month, said it is too early to say for sure how severe the Omicron coronavirus variant is, but there is an emerging view among scientists that existing Covid-19 vaccines will still work against it in protecting people against severe illness.

Singapore reported its first local Omicron case last Thursday – a front-line worker at Changi Airport who was infected despite already receiving a booster Covid-19 vaccine shot.

Another airport front-line worker case was reported on Friday.

Last Friday, MOH also announced that vaccination for children aged five to 11 years using paediatric doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech/Comirnaty Covid-19 vaccine would begin before the end of the year.

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It also announced that from Tuesday, the nationwide vaccination booster programme would also be extended to individuals aged 18 to 29.

As at last Friday, 30 per cent of the total population have received their booster shots.

Each household will be able to claim $100 worth of CDC vouchers. PM Lee said they are meant to show appreciation to Singaporeans for their solidarity amid the pandemic as well as support heartland businesses.

He thanked Singaporeans “for staying united and resilient in the face of Covid-19”.

“Together as a society, we can take steps forward, step by step, find our way to living with the virus, and safely resume all the things that we love to do.”

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