COVID-19: Singapore Omicron cases will not be isolated by default in facilities from 27 Dec

·Editorial team
·3-min read
People walk along the promenade at Marina Bay in Singapore on December 21, 2021. / AFP / Roslan RAHMAN
People walk along the promenade at Marina Bay in Singapore on December 21, 2021. / AFP / Roslan RAHMAN

SINGAPORE – Omicron cases will no longer be isolated in dedicated facilities by default from Monday (27 December), and allowed to recover at home, or at community care facilities, just like any COVID-positive case.

Close contacts of Omicron cases will be issued a seven-day Health Risk Warning (HRW) instead of being quarantined for 10 days.

These steps will allow Singapore to revert to a single streamlined approach – Protocol 1-2-3 – in dealing with COVID cases, the Ministry of Health (MOH) said in a press release on Sunday.

The MOH also said that in Singapore, Omicron cases have so far not been severe – none has required intensive care or oxygen supplementation, "although this may be partially due to most cases being fully vaccinated and from younger age groups".

This is in line with international data, which suggests that Omicron infections face reduced risks of hospitalisation and severe disease compared to Delta infections.

"Preliminary estimates from overseas studies also indicate that two doses of mRNA vaccines reduce the risk of symptomatic infection from Omicron by about 35 per cent," the MOH said. The risk is further reduced to about 75 per cent lower for individuals with a primary and booster mRNA regimen." These statistics refer to protection against symptomatic infection. "There should be better protection against severe infection and death due to cellular immunity and other factors," the ministry added.

As of Saturday, 546 confirmed Omicron cases – comprising 443 imported and 103 local cases – have been detected in Singapore. In the last week, there were 13 unlinked community Omicron cases and 78 Omicron cases from local linked community transmission.

PET to enter workplaces to cease from 15 January

Additionally, from 15 January onwards, the concession for unvaccinated employees to go back to the workplace with a negative Pre-Event Testing (PET) result will be ceased. Partially vaccinated workers will be granted a grace period until 31 January to complete their vaccination regime. During the grace period, they will continue to be able to enter the workplace with a negative PET result.

Changes to border control measures

From 1 February, COVID-19 vaccination will be a condition for the approval or grant of new long-term passes, work passes, as well as permanent residence. Vaccination will also be required when renewing existing work passes.

Vaccination is already a requirement, since 1 November, for long-term pass holders to enter Singapore.

The ban on travellers with a 14-day travel history to certain African nations will also be lifted. Incoming passengers with a 14-day travel history to Botswana, Eswatini, Ghana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, South Africa, and Zimbabwe, prior to departure to Singapore will be allowed to enter and transit through the city-state from 11.59pm on Sunday, and will be subjected to border measures for Category IV countries/regions.

Summary of Singapore's border measures as of Sunday, 26 December 2021. (TABLE: MOH)
Summary of Singapore's border measures as of Sunday, 26 December 2021. (TABLE: MOH)

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