SINGAPORE - Singapore must expect a new wave of Covid-19 cases in the coming days and weeks, said Finance Minister Lawrence Wong.
"It is inevitable that Omicron will spread in our community as it has in countries everywhere," said Mr Wong, who co-chairs the multi-ministry task force on Covid-19, in a Facebook post on Monday (Dec 27).
"But we have done whatever we can to prepare for this next wave, and we can weather through it together as one people."
When the Omicron variant emerged last month, the authorities initially adopted a more cautious containment approach to slow down its spread and learn more about it, he said.
It has been found that Omicron is likely to be more transmissible but less severe than the Delta variant, and that current vaccines and boosters are effective in protecting against severe illnesses caused by Omicron, he added.
The authorities are now adjusting protocols to manage Omicron cases in the same way as for Delta ones, said Mr Wong.
For instance, Omicron cases or close contacts can recover under the home recovery programme instead of being isolated at dedicated facilities.
"We will then prioritise our healthcare resources for the more severe cases, as well as those who are more vulnerable," he said.
The Ministry of Health (MOH) said on Sunday that 546 confirmed Omicron cases have been detected as at Saturday, comprising 443 imported cases and 103 local ones.
None of the cases here has been severe, and infected individuals have not required oxygen supplementation or intensive care, MOH added.
Mr Wong encouraged the public to get vaccinated to avoid restrictions on their movements, including not being able to go to the office.
MOH announced on Sunday that unvaccinated workers will not be allowed to return to the workplace from Jan 15 next year, even with a negative Covid-19 test.
The move is meant to bolster Singapore's protection against a large wave of local Omicron cases and keep workplaces here safe, MOH said.
This article was first published in The Straits Times. Permission required for reproduction.