Newer Omicron subvariants drive recent increase in Covid-19 cases in Singapore – MOH

SINGAPORE — There has been a 23 per cent week-on-week increase in COVID-19 community infections in Singapore largely driven by the increased spread of newer Omicron subvariants BA.4 and BA.5, according to the republic’s Ministry of Health (MOH).

“Although the BA.2 subvariant still accounts for the bulk of our COVID-19 infections, the proportion of BA.4 and BA.5 infections is rising,” said the ministry in a statement issued here yesterday.

MOH said about 30 per cent of the COVID-19 cases in the community in the past week were cases with BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants, as compared to 17 per cent and 3.0 per cent for the previous two weeks respectively.

“BA.5 alone is estimated to contribute to 25 per cent of all cases this week. The surge in BA.4 and BA.5 cases is likely to continue, driven by their higher transmissibility compared to BA.2,” it added.

MOH noted that current international and local evidence shows that the severity of BA.4 and BA.5 infections is similar to that of earlier Omicron strains.

“The current Safe Management Measures (SMMs), including the requirement to wear masks while indoors and Vaccination-Differentiated SMMs for some higher-risk activities, will remain,” it said.

MOH said it will continue genomic surveillance for circulating subvariants in Singapore, including requiring some infected individuals to take an additional government-funded polymerase chain reaction swab for genomic sequencing.

“While we have not seen a significant increase of severe COVID-19 cases in our hospitals, and the number of cases in the Intensive Care Units (ICUs) remains low, our public hospitals remain busy caring for non-COVID patients, and many hospitals experience high bed occupancies,” it said.

The ministry reminded that vaccination and boosters are an important line of defence. — BERNAMA