The Omicron wave in Singapore has peaked and the number of infections across the country is now declining though the pandemic has been unpredictable, Health Minister Ong Ye Kung told Parliament on Wednesday. Speaking in Parliament during the debate on the health ministry's budget, Ong also said once the coronavirus subsides the healthcare workers will finally have a well-deserved and lasting respite.
"There are now good indications that the Omicron transmission wave has peaked and is starting to subside. With that, I hope healthcare workers will finally have a well-deserved and lasting respite," Ong was quoted as saying in a report by The Straits Times newspaper. Unlike many other nations across the world, Singapore is among a handful of countries that until last week reported a very high number of COVID cases. However, the government is of the opinion that it was the peak of the pandemic's latest wave that saw the spurt in the cases of omicron variant.
Ong said the ministry has "been doing whatever it can" to help healthcare workers, such as ensuring there is enough Personal Protective Equipment, giving them priority when vaccines arrive, and moving patients, "as many patients as possible" to facilities outside of hospitals. Dr Janil Puthucheary, Senior Minister of State for Health, spoke of how clinics run by General practitioners, as well as hospitals and healthcare workers, are still under pressure caused by the Omicron wave. Much of this pressure comes from people who remain unvaccinated. He said: "Three per cent of our adult population who were not fully vaccinated accounted for 25 per cent of ICU cases and deaths."
Against this, people who have received their booster shots are 33 times less likely than those who are not fully vaccinated, to die from COVID-19. Responding to Leader of the Opposition Pritam Singh on preparations for ICU surges, Dr Koh Poh Koon, another Senior Minister of State for Health, said: "We have sufficient equipment and consumables to step up ICU beds significantly, and as of January 2022, more than 800 non-ICU nurses have been trained as a reserve to augment ICU nursing manpower by up to 57 per cent." Separately, Transport Minister S Iswaran said Singapore must sustain its momentum in reopening its borders, with the world learning to live with COVID-19. He pointed out during his ministry's budget debate that Changi Airport is now linked to 58 per cent of cities it was connected to before the pandemic hit.
Meanwhile, the number of flights passing through the airport has reached 38 per cent. Passenger volume reached 15 per cent of pre-pandemic level in December last year, driven by the launch of the vaccinated travel lanes (VTL) for quarantine-free travel. The Government aims to restore passenger volume to at least 50 per cent of the level before the pandemic this year, said Iswaran. Meanwhile, Singapore reported 22,201 new COVID-19 cases as of noon on Tuesday, including 215 imported infections. There were 15 fatalities reported on Tuesday, taking the death toll from coronavirus complications to 1,099. To date, Singapore has recorded 868,542 COVID-19 cases since the start of the pandemic.
With PTI Inputs