Singapore's Ministry of Health released an update to the evolving health situation involving the Omicron variant as it urged citizens to get vaccinated as soon as possible. According to data received from South Africa and other affected countries, the new virus showed higher transmissibility, the MOH warned.
"Early clinical observations from South Africa and globally suggest that the variant may have increased transmissibility. It may also be associated with a higher risk of re-infection, compared to the Delta and Beta variants. This means that there is a higher likelihood of individuals who have recovered from COVID-19 to be re-infected with the Omicron variant," said the official statement from Singapore's health ministry.
While research into the virus was ongoing, developing scientific consensus suggested that existing vaccines would protect against the virus the MOH said. To this effect, vaccinations were the only way forward to protect against 'existing and future variants' of Covid-19.
The MOH also clarified that the new coronavirus variant apparently exhibited milder infections and severity when compared to earlier strains. However it was too early to draw conclusions since the outbreak was first detected in a university town with a young population the ministry cautioned. Nevertheless, no Omicron related deaths had been reported so far and symptoms were mild, the statement said.
The higher number of hospitalisations in South Africa could also be due to existing infection rates as well as patients hospitalised for other diseases contracting the Omicron strain.
"We expect to see more Omicron cases being reported globally in the weeks to come...MOH will continue to coordinate with health authorities globally to study and understand the Omicron variant, so as to develop the best possible response," the ministry said.