90% of COVID daily cases in Singapore of BA.2 Omicron subvariant: Ong Ye Kung

In this photograph taken on February 18, 2022, people take a boat tour before the Marina Bay Sands hotel and resort in Singapore. - Rivals Singapore and Hong Kong have become pandemic polar opposites, the former opting to live with the coronavirus and reopen to the world while the latter doubles down on zero-Covid and its international isolation. - To go with AFP story Health-virus-Hong Kong-China-Singapore, FOCUS by Holmes Chan with Catherine Lai in Singapore (Photo by Roslan RAHMAN / AFP) / To go with AFP story Health-virus-Hong Kong-China-Singapore, FOCUS by Holmes Chan with Catherine Lai in Singapore (Photo by ROSLAN RAHMAN/AFP via Getty Images)
People take a boat tour in Singapore on 18 February, 2022. (PHTOO: AFP via Getty Images)

SINGAPORE — Some 90 per cent of Singapore's daily COVID-19 cases are of the more infectious BA.2 Omicron subvariant, said Health Minister Ong Ye Kung on Friday (11 March).

But the COVID-19 multi-ministry taskforce co-chair noted during a virtual press conference that there are "good indications" that the Omicron wave has peaked, and is subsiding, "albeit slowly".

On Thursday, Singapore recorded a total of 901,758 cases with 16,165 new infections, three weeks after it crossed the half-million mark. Over the last 28 days, 457,051 cases were reported, of whom 99.7 per cent had no or mild symptoms.

Based on the seven-day moving average of local cases, the number peaked at about 18,300 on 26 February, Ong said, with numbers coming down steadily since to about 16,300 as of Thursday.

If the weekly infection growth rate – or ratio of community cases for the past week over the week before – remains at 0.93, the number will be halved in four to five weeks, he said.

"We expect the week-on-week ratio to reduce further in the coming days. Reproduction rate is about 1.0 now. We hope this reduction in daily caseload will accelerate in the coming days," Ong added.

The Ministry of Health (MOH)'s Director of Medical Services Kenneth Mak said noted that all COVID-19 cases that are treated in Singapore are of the Omicron variant.

Singapore's overall experience with Omicron "echoes that in other countries" where many of those infected only suffered mild symptoms and have made uneventful recoveries, he added.

The World Health Organization (WHO) on 22 February said that the Omicron variant of concern is currently the dominant variant circulating globally, accounting for nearly all sequences reported to the Global Initiative on Sharing All Influenza Data (GISAID).

"At a global level, the proportion of reported sequences designated BA.2 has been increasing relative to BA.1 in recent weeks, however, the global circulation of all variants is reportedly declining," the WHO added.

Initial data has suggested that the BA.2 variant appears inherently more transmissible than BA.1 but has no significant difference in clinical outcomes.

The BA.2 subvariant is often considered "stealthy" because it is missing characteristics that are needed for detection in PCR tests and its differentiation from earlier variants, such as Delta. As such, it was able to escape detection previously.

The MOH previously said that as of 25 January, 198 cases of the subvariant – 48 local and 150 imported – were detected here.

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