Health Minister Ong Ye Kung told parliament on Monday that Singapore could expect a wave of infections “many times larger” than that caused by Omicron’s delta as he cited the high transmission potential of the latest version.
Responding to a question from an MP, the minister said cases are likely to double every two to three days.
Citing the high transmission potential of the Omicron variant, Ong said Singapore can expect the infection wave to be “many times larger” than the one caused by the Delta.
“If Delta infections reach a sustained incidence of about 3,000 cases a day, Omicron could probably reach 10,000 to 15,000 cases a day or more.”
“So once the cases start rising rapidly, within a couple of weeks, we can see 3,000 omicron cases a day,” the minister said.
Ong also pointed to global studies showing that the Omicron variant causes less severe disease than Delta, with fewer cases being hospitalized or requiring emergency care.
“This is also born out of our own experience. In Singapore, we have recorded 4,322 omicron infections so far, including 308 senior citizens aged 60 years and above.”
“Eight needed oxygen supplementation and all of them were weaned off oxygen after a few days. As of now no one has required ICU care,” he said.
If these infections were caused by Delta, officials expect 50 to 60 patients to receive oxygen supplements, ICU care or die, he said.
But Ong cautioned that Singapore should be careful in interpreting these comments, as “it is early days and circumstances are different in each country”.
In the meantime, the current COVID-19 safeguard measures will only be tightened as a “last resort” when Singapore’s health system is under enormous strain, Ong said.
“It (the multi-ministerial task force) is hopeful that we can ride through the Omicron wave with the current safe management measures.
“If we have to tighten restrictions, it will be as a last resort when our health system is under severe pressure,” he said in response to a question whether stricter rules would be put in place.
Citing Singapore’s experience with the delta wave last year, Ong said that even after it eased, officials were “overjoyed” and avoided more relaxed restrictions.
“That would be a mistake,” he said.
Meanwhile, Singapore on Sunday reported 845 new COVID-19 cases, including 587 imported infections.
There was one death, taking the death toll from coronavirus complications in the country to 838.
The MOH separately reported 327 new micron infections, including 218 imported cases and 109 local cases.
As of Sunday, Singapore has recorded 285,647 COVID-19 cases since the start of the pandemic.
(Except for the title, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)