Singapore’s ministry of health has said that early clinical observations globally suggest that the Omicron variant of COVID-19 may be more transmissible and have a higher risk of reinfection compared to the Delta and Beta variants of the virus.
“This means that there is a higher likelihood of individuals who have recovered from COVID-19 to be reinfected with the Omicron variant,” Channel News Asia quoted the ministry as saying on Sunday in an update on the Omicron variant.
Meanwhile, the city-state reported one more “preliminarily positive” Omicron case on Sunday. The 37-year old vaccinated permanent resident was on the same flight as two other “preliminary positive” cases that landed here from South Africa on December 1.
On Sunday, Singapore also reported 552 new COVID-19 cases and 13 deaths linked to the coronavirus.
The ministry said it has, over the past several days, reviewed reports from South Africa and other countries, and actively engaged experts in affected countries to obtain first-hand information.
“This press release updates our understanding of the Omicron variant, even while many questions remain with no clear answers,” the Channel quoted MOH.
With the new variant spreading globally, Singapore “must expect to detect more cases at our borders and, in time to come, also within our community”, MOH cautioned.
Studies on whether existing COVID-19 vaccines are effective against the new variant are ongoing, but “there is an emerging view amongst scientists around the world that existing COVID-19 vaccines will still work on the Omicron variant, especially in protecting people against severe illness,” the MOH said.
The ministry urged those eligible to get themselves vaccinated or go for their booster jabs, saying there is strong scientific consensus that doing so will protect against any existing and future variants of COVID-19.