InternationalUS says S’pore Covid-19 status ‘unknown’, Ong Ye Kung says ‘we...

US says S’pore Covid-19 status ‘unknown’, Ong Ye Kung says ‘we know it very well’

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Singapore – The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently tagged the Covid-19 situation in Singapore as “unknown,” urging people to avoid travel to the Republic.

Responding to the “unknown” status, Health Minister Ong Ye Kung said that the Singapore government  knows the situation “very well”.

“To be clear, we know our situation very well,”  he said at a press conference by the Multi-Ministry Task Force (MTF) on Wednesday (Jan 5). He is one of the MTF’s co-chairmen.

He offered a breakdown of the numbers for the Covid-19 situation, noting that Singapore administers more 150,000 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests weekly, which works out to more than 21,000 PCR tests daily.

“The positive rates for these tests are under 2 per cent,” he said.

Meanwhile, CDC highlighted in its advisory that due to the “unknown current situation” in Singapore, even fully vaccinated travellers may be at risk for getting and spreading Covid-19 variants.

“If you must travel to Singapore, make sure you are fully vaccinated before travel,” it added.

Photo: Taken from CDC website

The CDC uses Travel Health Notices to alert travellers and other audiences to health threats worldwide.

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It adapts a four-level notice system depending on the Covid-19 risk level of each country. Level 4 indicates that the average of new cases over the past 28 days per 100,000 population tops was more than 500 cases.

A fifth category is for an unknown status. Other countries with this status including Cambodia, Afghanistan, North Korea and Syria.

In his statement, Mr Ong highlighted that Singapore has 145 wastewater testing stations across the island, in such places as housing estates, dormitories and nursing homes.

Findings indicate “a very small handful” registering the presence of Covid-19 viral fragments, he said, adding: “So we are sure that the incidence of Covid-19 in our community is currently low and stable.”

Brace for much bigger Covid-19 infection

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Mr Ong cautioned that Singapore must brace for a “much bigger” Covid-19 infection wave from the Omicron variant than earlier waves caused by the Delta variant. He estimates that the peak would result in “few times” more than the reported 3,000 daily cases from the Delta variant.

The Health Ministry’s director of medical services, Associate Professor Kenneth Mak, thinks  the wave of Omicron infections could even hit 15,000 a day in a “worst-case scenario”.

Singapore, however, has become more resilient to the virus and making good progress towards living with Covid-19, said Mr Ong.

“This is also the result of everyone’s efforts and our collective will. While cases rose exponentially in many parts of the world, we maintained our discipline, kept our masks on, stuck to our group sizes, got ourselves vaccinated and boosted, and kept our infection levels low,” he said.

MOH reported 805 new cases on Jan 5, with 440 new Omicron cases confirmed that day. There were two reported deaths while the week-on-week infection ratio reached 1.28, a sharp increase from 0.52 on Dec 24, 2021./TISG

Read related: Ong Ye Kung: OMICRON wave imminent, we need to be prepared for it

Ong Ye Kung: OMICRON wave imminent, we need to be prepared for it

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