Singapore maintains vaccinated travel lanes (VTLs) with several countries where Omicron has spread rapidly, including the US and Europe’s largest travel hubs. The VTLs require full vaccination and negative tests for boarding, with the promise of quarantine free entry after further tests on arrival.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong warned in late November that Omicron’s arrival could require Singapore to “take a few steps back” in its reopening plans “before we can take more steps forward”.
Two of the three cases in Singapore’s cluster have been preliminarily confirmed as Omicron, while the third is pending. All who tested positive had no recent travel history and were fully vaccinated.
Singapore’s advantage in facing Omicron is its vaccination rate, among the highest in the world according to data compiled by Bloomberg. About 96% of those eligible for vaccination have been fully vaccinated, which amounts to about 87% of the total population. More than a third of the total population have had booster jabs.
Local Covid-19 cases have fallen over the last two months, down from a high of more than 4,600 daily cases on October 27 to less than 200 on Monday. At the same time, Singapore has seen a sharp rise in imported cases, with over 90% of 49 infections found among travellers from abroad on the same day being caused by Omicron.
Singapore plans to begin vaccinating one of its last remaining groups, children age 5 to 11, starting on December 27. Its first shipment of paediatric vaccine, from Pfizer-BioNTech, is due to arrive on December 22.
“With more Omicron variant cases detected locally and globally, vaccination is key to protect both the young and old,” health minister Ong Ye Kung said in a Facebook post.
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