Singapore has recently reported 198 cases of COVID-19 traced to the BA.2 Omicron sub-lineage, which appears to be more infectious than the more common BA.1, but hospitals are coping well in spite of the current wave infecting thousands of people daily, according to reports
A total of 150 BA.2 cases were imported infections and the remaining 48 were local cases since January 25, 2022, the TODAY newspaper reported. Investigations into the characteristics of BA.2, including immune escape properties and virulence, should be prioritised independently (and comparatively) to BA.1, said the World Health Organisation (WHO).
The BA.2 Omicron sub-lineage differs from BA.1 in some of the mutations, including in the spike protein, the WHO wrote on its website. The BA.2 sub-lineage has been detected in more than 50 countries, most notably in Denmark and the UK as of Friday.
Meanwhile, Singapore reported 5,554 new COVID-19 cases, including 282 imported infections, and three deaths as of noon on Friday. Singapore has so far recorded 338,625 cases since the start of the pandemic. The figure is backdated to January 6 when general practitioners started to report Protocol 2. The coronavirus-linked death toll stands at 853, according to the Ministry of Health (MOH) website. On the BA.2 Omicron variant, 152 were imported (or those arriving here) and 48 were local cases.
Separately, a report said that Singapore hospitals were coping well in spite of the Omicron wave infecting thousands of people daily.
Most of the hospitals have resumed business as usual, with all wards open and staff encouraged to take leave, The Straits Times reported on Saturday. This is largely because the illness caused by this COVID-19 Omicron variant is generally mild, with 99.7 per cent of people having little or even no symptoms. While more than 600 people with COVID-19 are in hospital, only 10 are in the intensive care unit and 46 require oxygen, according to the MOH.
A National University Health System (NUHS) spokesman said, “The majority of COVID-19 cases are currently managed in the community, and we will maintain a good bed occupancy rate by referring stable patients to home recovery.” All the hospitals say they are prepared for any potential surge in patients.
“We have set aside existing beds that can potentially be converted to isolation beds for COVID-19 cases, as well as more holding facilities for suspect cases pending their results,” The Straits Times quoted a NUHS spokesman as saying. “There are also dedicated facilities and manpower to support the care of COVID-19 patients.”
The spokesman said its senior management is aware of the importance of good communication, so they “continually engage staff to provide clarity and direction for the changing situations”. They also “ensure adequate support by making changes and adapting workflows with flexibility in manpower deployment to reduce staff burnout while meeting operational and safety requirements”.
Professor Fong Kok Yong, SingHealth’s deputy group chief executive officer, said there are no disruptions to operations at its hospitals, even though emergency departments are seeing a gradual increase in respiratory illness and suspected COVID-19 cases.
According to media reports, there seems to be easing of restrictions imposed as safeguard measures against Omicron in England and Denmark.
England has lifted coronavirus restrictions imposed to tackle the Omicron variant, with masks no longer required in enclosed places and vaccine passports shelved as of Thursday, while Denmark has announced plans to scrap the last of its COVID-19 restrictions by February 1, 2022.