Singapore Says Boosters Needed to Keep Vaccinated Status
(Bloomberg) -- Singapore says booster shots will be required to maintain vaccination status, as the city-state avoided new restrictions while preparing for an expected wave of the omicron variant that’s seen to have less severe effects.
Officials said they remain committed to reopening and didn’t announce any changes to Covid-related curbs at a Wednesday news conference even as they expect daily cases to hit 15,000 in a worst-case scenario, triple the previous high. The stance stood in contrast to rival Asian financial hub Hong Kong, which earlier in the day halted flights from eight countries and banned dining-in at restaurants after 6 p.m.
Singapore will instead lean on booster shots, home recovery and testing to manage virus cases. From Feb. 14, those aged 18 years and above will be considered fully vaccinated for only nine months after their second jab and should get their booster from around five months to maintain that status, the health ministry said in a statement.
Being fully vaccinated in the city-state is now a requirement to enter most settings, including shopping malls and offices. Singapore, one of the most vaccinated countries in the world, has also started its inoculation drive for younger children, and is pushing ahead with a booster program.
The island nation is bracing for an omicron wave that’s anticipated to be bigger than the last delta wave. Singapore has detected over 2,000 total omicron cases -- though only three have needed oxygen supplementation and none have gone to intensive care units. While cases have been largely mild, increased numbers of hospitalized cases could threaten to overwhelm limited capacity, officials said at a briefing on Wednesday.
Living with Covid-19
Still, they reiterated the country’s determination to keep on its reopening path and avoid dialing back on measures unless the health care system is compromised.
“Even with the emergence of omicron, we remain committed to living with Covid-19,” trade minister Gan Kim Yong said at a briefing on Wednesday. “In fact, with omicron being highly transmissible and spreading faster, it is even more certain that is is not possible to eradicate the virus totally.”
There have been increasing signs of fatigue with strict curbs, including current limits capping social gatherings to a maximum of five people. Last week, an impromptu New Year’s Eve street party involving hundreds of revelers prompted a rebuke by the authorities for flouting safe-distancing rules. Mobility levels on public transport in the city have also risen significantly above pre-pandemic levels, according to data compiled by Apple Inc.
Finance Minister Lawrence Wong said Singapore intends to stick to its current measures as far as possible. Rules will be maintained throughout the Lunar New Year period that begins Feb. 1. “We don’t intend to relax further at this time, and we’ll try not to have to tighten,” he said. “In the event that the healthcare system comes under tremendous pressure, then as a last resort, we may have no choice but to tighten some of our measures.”
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