There has been a 23% week-on-week increase in COVID-19 community infections. The rise is largely driven by increased spread of newer Omicron subvariants BA.4 and BA.5.
More Community Cases with BA.5 Subvariant Detected
2. Although the BA.2 subvariant still accounts for the bulk of our COVID-19 infections, the proportion of BA.4 and BA.5 infections is rising. About 30% of the COVID-19 cases in the community in the past week were cases with BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants, as compared to 17% and 3% for the previous two weeks respectively. BA.5 alone is estimated to contribute to 25% of all cases this week. The surge in BA.4 and BA.5 cases is likely to continue, driven by their higher transmissibility compared to BA.2.
3. Currently international and local evidence shows that the severity of BA.4 and BA.5 infections is similar to that of earlier Omicron strains. The current Safe Management Measures (SMMs), including the requirement to wear masks while indoors and Vaccination-Differentiated SMMs for some higher-risk activities, will remain.
4. The Ministry of Health (MOH) will continue genomic surveillance for circulating subvariants in Singapore, including requiring some infected individuals to take an additional government-funded polymerase chain reaction swab for genomic sequencing.
Hospital Capacity Remains Tight
5. While we have not seen a significant increase of severe COVID-19 cases in our hospitals, and the number of cases in the Intensive Care Units (ICUs) remain low, our public hospitals remain busy caring for non-COVID patients, and many hospitals experience high bed occupancies.
6. To ensure that precious emergency department (ED) resources are available to patients who need urgent emergency care, we strongly advise the public to only seek medical treatment at a hospital’s ED for serious or life-threatening emergencies. Patients with minor ailments are strongly urged to seek medical attention at General Practitioner clinics.
Vaccination and Boosters are an Important Line of Defence
7. Vaccinations are critical to protect us against severe illness when infected with COVID-19, especially given the uptick in cases. In this regard, we strongly recommend that seniors aged 70 years and above (and especially those aged 80 years and above) take their second booster shot. All other eligible persons should complete their primary vaccination series and get at least their first booster as soon as possible. MOH will soon be deploying mobile vaccination teams to help seniors get boosted.
8. From 23 June 2022, five new Joint Testing and Vaccination Centres (JTVCs) will begin vaccination and COVID-19 testing operations. Located in Ang Mo Kio, Bukit Merah, Sengkang, Woodlands and Yishun, the five new JTVCs will bring the total to 10 JTVCs across the island. These centres will offer the Pfizer-BioNTech/ Comirnaty and Moderna/ Spikevax vaccines. JTVC Bishan will offer the Pfizer-BioNTech/ Comirnaty and Novavax/ Nuvaxovid vaccines. Individuals aged 12 years and above may walk in to any of the JTVCs to receive their vaccination and booster.
10. As we step up more JTVCs and consolidate our resources and free up this space for other uses, we will be closing the Vaccination Centre (VC) at Raffles City Convention Centre on 18 July 2022. The VC will accept appointments made via the National Appointment System and walk-ins for vaccination until 18 July 2022.
Keeping our Guard Up
11. While our population is now more resilient against COVID-19, everyone must continue to play their part to continue to observe the SMMs, exercise individual and social responsibility, such as by self-testing especially when symptomatic, and avoiding social interactions if one has fever or respiratory symptoms, or tests positive for COVID-19. As persons with early COVID-19 symptoms may test negative on the Antigen Rapid Test (ART), they should consider repeating an ART test the next day if symptoms continue or worsen. This is because it takes time for a person’s viral load to reach the threshold for detection by the test kit.