Singapore lifts travel ban on 10 African countries on Omicron

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Singapore has lifted the ban on 10 African countries on the Omicron variant of the coronavirus, while authorities expect a rapid doubling of cases in the coming days.

Passengers arriving in Singapore with a history of travel to Botswana, Eswatini, Ghana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, South Africa and Zimbabwe within the last 14 days will be subject to Category IV border measures in the country from 11.59 p.m. Sunday.

Meanwhile, the Department of Health (MoH) said it expects a new wave of local cases “soon” given the higher transmissibility of the Omicron variant.

“In the days and weeks to come, we should expect more community (local) cases and a rapid doubling of cases. Once again this is a process that we must follow to live with COVID-19, ”he said.

“However, the peak of the wave can be blunt and we can avoid overloading our health care system again if everyone plays their part in getting their vaccines and booster doses, self-testing regularly and self-help. -isolate if it tests positive, “Channel News Asia told Channel. citing the health ministry said.

In particular, those who have recently arrived from abroad or have been in contact with an infected person should reduce their social interactions.

“We did everything we could to prepare for it; in particular by giving boosters to our population and starting vaccinations for our children. We are looking for everyone’s cooperation and understanding, as we cross an Omicron wave in the next one to two months, “the channel said, quoting the ministry.

Instead of being isolated by default in dedicated facilities, Omicron cases will be convalesced at home or treated in community care facilities based on their clinical presentation, the channel reported.

This means that travelers with ties to these countries must pass a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test within two days before departure for Singapore, as well as a PCR test on arrival. They must also serve a 10-day notice of stay at home in a dedicated establishment. Another PCR test will be administered at the end of their quarantine period.

Previously, long-term pass holders and short-term visitors with recent travel history to these 10 African countries were not allowed to enter or transit following initial reports of Omicron cases. the low. Singapore citizens and permanent residents returning from these countries should serve 10 days notice of stay at a dedicated facility.

The health ministry said it initially took a “more cautious risk containment approach” to reduce the spread of the Omicron COVID-19 variant in Singapore.

“The Omicron variant has since spread widely around the world,” the ministry said, adding that Singapore was updating its travel restrictions accordingly.

“As the global situation evolves, we will continue to adjust our border measures in tandem with our roadmap to become a Covid resistant nation,” he said.

“Current observations from affected countries and regions suggest that the Omicron variant is more transmissible than the variants currently in circulation. Globally, the Omicron variant has overtaken the Delta variant as the predominant variant in many countries, such as the UK and Denmark, ”he added.

Available data suggests that Omicron infections face reduced risks of hospitalization and serious illness compared to Delta infections, the health ministry added.

“Locally, our Omicron cases have so far not been as severe, none required intensive care or supplementation with oxygen, although this may be in part due to the fact that most cases are fully immunized. and belong to younger age groups, ”he said.

Preliminary estimates from studies abroad also indicate that two doses of mRNA vaccines reduce the risk of symptomatic infection with Omicron by approximately 35%. The risk is further reduced to about 75 percent lower for people with a primary and booster mRNA regimen.

“There should be better protection against serious infections and death from cellular immunity and other factors,” the health ministry said.

“It is therefore important for us to continue our booster vaccination program to improve protection against infections and serious illnesses,” he said.

In addition, Omicron cases in Singapore will be convalesced at home or treated in community care facilities based on their clinical presentation, instead of being isolated by default in dedicated facilities, the ministry said.

“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 hospitalizations caused by Omicron,” the channel said. citing the Department of Health.

“Over the past week, we have had several cases of unrelated Omicron as well as clusters in the community. This was not unexpected given the high transmissibility of the variant, the ministry said.

Based on the authorities’ “updated understanding”, Omicron cases will be allowed to follow 1-2-3 protocols like other COVID-19 cases, he said.

As of Saturday, Singapore had detected 546 confirmed cases of Omicron, including 443 imported cases and 103 local infections.

Singapore reported 209 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday, 100 of which were imported or arrived here.

There was also one death, bringing the death toll from complications of the coronavirus in the country to 822.

As of Sunday, Singapore had registered 2,777,764 cases of COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic.

(Only the title and image of this report may have been reworked by Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is automatically generated from a syndicated feed.)

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