SINGAPORE - The Ministry of Health (MOH) will be changing its daily reporting of Covid-19 cases, and it would no longer be differentiating between Omicron cases and non-Omicron infections as total infections are not as important any more, said Health Minister Ong Ye Kung on Friday (Jan 21).
Speaking at the multi-ministry task force press conference tackling Covid-19, Mr Ong said that as the Omicron variant has "clearly dominated" the current infection wave, this is a change in case definition and how statistics are compiled.
"In reality, the way we live our life, the way we respond to the disease, nothing has changed, only the statistics and the numbers. So it does not change the actual epidemic situation which we are experiencing.
"Over the past few weeks, we have been living with Covid-19 and the Omicron variant quite carefully and calmly, with a less restricted posture, where we can meet in groups of five... The fact is that with vaccinations working well and the Omicron variant being less severe, the top-line infection number is becoming less and less meaningful in our response to Covid-19," he added.
Mr Ong also pointed out that the top-line infection number comprises mostly people who are vaccinated while experiencing mild symptoms, which from a public health standpoint, is not something to be overly concerned about.
He had also discussed this issue with World Health Organisation director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus last week over a Zoom call, said Mr Ong, who noted that it was "well acknowledged" by Dr Tedros and his experts to start to live normally with the disease.
In addition, two sets of figures will be included in the daily statistics. Besides positive cases detected by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests, those who had gone to their GPs with mild symptoms and taken an antigen rapid test (ART) will be counted in a separate set of figures.
Mr Ong noted that when the arrangement had begun on Jan 6, there were around 100 to 200 cases a day that were not counted under the daily Covid-19 figures.
However, with more Omicron cases which are milder in nature, Mr Ong said that more GPs will be prescribing this protocol to patients.
Cases under this classification had risen quickly to 400 to 500 cases a day last week, and over 1,000 cases a day this week. Therefore, these figures will be added to the daily updates on infection numbers for a clearer picture on the epidemic situation in Singapore.
Total cases with the Omicron variant: 12,078 individuals
Needing oxygen supplementation: 34, or less than 0.3 per cent versus 0.8 cent with the Delta variant
Deaths in the last 20 days: Much fewer - nine days with no deaths, seven days with one death each, the rest of the days had three or fewer deaths
Cases in the ICU: 14 patients, all due to Delta
- 300 patients occupying about one-quarter of 1,100 isolation beds, which can be ramped up to 2,500 on short notice
- 200 patients occupying 6 per cent of 3,200 beds in Covid-19 treatment facilities, which can be ramped up to 4,000 beds by the end of January and 5,000 beds by the end of February
This article was first published in The Straits Times. Permission required for reproduction.