SINGAPORE — Singapore expects the number of COVID-19 cases to rise sharply as the Omicron variant spreads throughout the community, with cases doubling every two to three days and hitting 15,000 or more cases per day.
The multi-ministry taskforce (MTF) for COVID-19 said in a media release on Friday (21 January) that international and local data shows that the Omicron variant is less severe compared to the Delta variant. As such, the MTF expects a gentler rise in hospitalisations and deaths compared to the steeper rise in overall case numbers.
"Given Omicron’s lower severity, we should focus our attention on the numbers in ICU care instead of case numbers," MTF said in the media release.
"Nevertheless, Omicron’s higher transmissibility means that we cannot let our guard down, as an uncontrolled rise in overall case numbers could still push hospital and ICU admissions to unmanageable levels."
MTF said that Singapore's COVID-19 situation remains under control. The numbers in intensive care unit (ICU) care remained low at 14 as of Thursday, despite the rising numbers of daily polymerase chain reaction (PCR) positive cases from around 800 last week to 1,472 cases on Thursday.
The taskforce will begin to publish the number of positive cases from antigen rapid tests (ARTs) with the expanded use of Protocol 2. In the past week, there was a daily average of around 800 patients who tested ART-positive at healthcare facilities.
With Omicron’s higher transmissibility, the number of individuals with severe symptoms could be even higher than the earlier Delta wave, as more individuals will be infected. MTF is therefore urging unvaccinated individuals to get vaccinated or receive their booster shot at the earliest opportunity.
Unvaccinated individuals continue to disproportionately contribute to the number of severe cases requiring acute medical care, especially the elderly. About 12 per cent of non-fully-vaccinated cases aged 60 and above were critically ill in ICU care or have died, compared to 1 per cent of fully-vaccinated cases of the same age groups.
Stay in the know on-the-go: Join Yahoo Singapore's Telegram channel at http://t.me/YahooSingapore