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Omicron cases to be placed on home recovery, as Singapore adjusts approach to new variant: MOH

SINGAPORE — Eligible Covid-19 cases infected with the Omicron variant will be placed on home recovery from Monday (Dec 27), as part of a shift in Singapore's approach to the variant following international evidence that Omicron is likely to be more transmissible but less severe than the Delta variant.

Omicron cases to be placed on home recovery, as Singapore adjusts approach to new variant: MOH
International evidence indicates that the Omicron variant is likely to be more transmissible but less severe than the Delta variant, and that vaccines, especially boosters, retain substantial protection against hospitalisations caused by Omicron, MOH said.
  • Eligible Covid-19 patients with the Omicron strain will be able to recover at home from Dec 27
  • This is part of a shift in Singapore's approach after global evidence that Omicron is likely more transmissible but less severe than the Delta strain
  • Close contacts of Omicron cases will be given a seven-day health risk warning instead of being quarantined for 10 days
  • The move will align protocols for Omicron infections with other Covid-19 cases

SINGAPORE — Eligible Covid-19 cases infected with the Omicron variant will be placed on home recovery from Monday (Dec 27), as part of a shift in Singapore's approach to the variant following international evidence that Omicron is likely to be more transmissible but less severe than the Delta variant.

As with other Covid-19 cases, Omicron patients will be placed on the home recovery or managed at community care facilities "depending on their clinical presentation, instead of being isolated in dedicated facilities by default", the Ministry of Health (MOH) said.

Close contacts of Omicron cases will be issued a seven-day health risk warning instead of being quarantined for 10 days. Those currently in quarantine will be progressively discharged over the next few days.

The move will align the protocols for Omicron cases with other Covid-19 cases, which presently follow MOH's simplified healthcare protocols 1-2-3.

"International evidence indicates that the Omicron variant is likely to be more transmissible but less severe than the Delta variant, and that vaccines, especially boosters, retain substantial protection against hospitalisations caused by Omicron," MOH said.

"In the last week, we had several unlinked Omicron cases as well as clusters in the community. This was not unexpected given the high transmissibility of the variant."

The ministry said that in the coming days and weeks, Singapore should expect more Covid-19 cases in the community and a rapid doubling of infections.

"Given the transmissibility of Omicron and the open nature of our society, it is inevitable that Omicron will spread in our community, as it has in over 100 countries," said MOH. 

It added: "We have done whatever we can to prepare ourselves for it, especially in administering boosters to our population and starting vaccinations for our children.

"We seek the cooperation and understanding of everyone, as we weather an Omicron wave in the next one to two months."

As of Dec 25, there have been 546 Omicron cases detected in Singapore, out of which 443 were imported and 103 were local cases. Last week, 13 of the cases in the community were unlinked, and 78 were linked.

None of the local Omicron cases are severe and need intensive care or oxygen supplementation, said MOH, though this could be partially due to the fact that most cases are vaccinated and are from younger age groups.

Stressing the importance of vaccination, the ministry said overseas preliminary data showed that two doses of messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) vaccines reduce the risk of symptomatic infection from the Omicron variant by about 35 per cent.

"The risk is further reduced to about 75 per cent lower for individuals with a primary and booster mRNA regimen," MOH added.

The authorities lifted travel restrictions on some African countries, too, which were implemented early on when Omicron was first discovered, as the spread of the variant is now global.

Passengers with a 14-day travel history from these countries will be able to enter and transit through Singapore from 11.59pm on Dec 26:

  • Botswana
  • Eswatini
  • Ghana
  • Lesotho
  • Malawi
  • Mozambique
  • Namibia
  • Nigeria
  • South Africa
  • Zimbabwe

MOH said it intends to take "the next step" towards living with the coronavirus by working with the community's general practitioners to care for those who test positive with Covid-19 but have mild symptoms and are self-isolating at home.

More details of this will be given in early January, said the ministry.

Related topics

Covid-19 coronavirus Omicron vaccination MOH

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