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    Singapore will certainly expect a new wave of Covid, warns Minister Wong


    SINGAPORE: Singapore must expect a new wave of COVID-19 cases in the coming days and weeks, Finance Minister Lawrence Wong said on Monday, adding that extensive preparations have been made for the expected wave. “It is inevitable that Omicron will spread in our community as it is everywhere in the country,” said Wang, who is the vice-president of COVID-19’s multi-ministerial task force, in a Facebook post on Monday.

    “But we’ve done everything we can to prepare for this next wave, and we as a human being can weather through it all together,” the Straits Times quoted Wong as saying. When the Omicron variant appeared last month, authorities were initially more cautious. He said containment methods to reduce its spread and to learn more about it. It has been found that Omicron is more contagious but less serious than the Delta variant and is effective in protecting against serious illnesses caused by current vaccines and boosters. By Omicron, he added. Authorities are now adjusting protocols to handle Omicron cases in the same way as Deltas, Wang said. For example, Omicron cases or close contacts can recover under the Home Recovery Program without being disconnected from the dedicated facilities “We will then prioritize our healthcare resources in more critical cases, as well as for those at greater risk,” he said.

    Wong encouraged the public to get vaccinated to avoid restrictions on their movement, including not being able to go to the office. The MOH announced on Sunday that immunized workers would not be allowed to return to work from January 15 next year, even if they tested negative for COVID-19. The move is aimed at strengthening Singapore’s security against a large wave of local Omicron cases and keeping workplaces safe here, the MOH said. Meanwhile, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) said about 52,000 workers in Singapore had not received any COVID-19 vaccine.

    It added that about 6,700 people, aged 60 or older, were at risk of serious illness or death from COVID-19 infection. It noted that only a small fraction of these workers were medically unfit to be vaccinated, while 98 percent of workers were vaccinated, excluding self-employed individuals. As of December 19, 80 percent of companies have achieved full vaccine coverage for their employees. This is significant progress, the MOM said, as it has reduced to less than 75,000 employees who have not been vaccinated by December 5.

    The updates come in the wake of the Health Ministry’s announcement on Sunday that immunized workers will not be allowed to return to work from January 15 next year. Although they tested negative for COVID-19 24 hours ago, this rule still stands. Those who have been declared medically incompetent or have recovered from COVID-19 within 180 days will be able to return. Those who have been partially vaccinated can go to work, but only until January 31 with a negative pre-event test result. After January 31, they must be fully vaccinated, according to media reports quoting MOH.

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