West News Wire: The ministry recommended people who are eligible to be vaccinated, claiming that there is substantial scientific consensus that doing so will protect them from any current or future variations.

Early clinical findings imply that the Omicron variation of COVID-19 is more transmissible and has a higher risk of reinfection than the Delta and Beta versions of the virus, according to Singapore’s Ministry of Health.

“This indicates that persons who have recovered from COVID-19 are more likely to be re-infected with the Omicron variation,” the ministry said in an update on the Omicron version on Sunday, according to Channel News Asia.

Meanwhile, on Sunday, the city state announced yet another “preliminarily positive” Omicron case.

The 37-year old vaccinated permanent resident arrived from South Africa on the same airplane as two other “preliminary positive” cases on December 1.

Singapore announced 552 new COVID-19 cases and 13 fatalities related to the coronavirus on Sunday.

The ministry said it has evaluated reports from South Africa and other countries over the past several days and has aggressively contacted specialists in impacted nations to get first-hand knowledge.

“This press release increases our understanding of the Omicron variety,” MOH told the Channel, “despite though many issues remain unanswered.”

With the new variation spreading throughout the world, the MOH warned that Singapore “must anticipate to find more instances at our borders and, in time, also within our population.”

Existing COVID-19 vaccines are being tested to see if they are effective against the new variant, but “an emerging view amongst scientists around the world is that existing COVID-19 vaccines will still work on the Omicron variant, especially in protecting people against severe illness,” according to the MOH.

The ministry urged those eligible to get themselves vaccinated or go for their booster shorts, saying there is strong scientific consensus that doing so will protect against any existing and future variants of COVID-19.

Addressing concerns regarding the severity of the strain of the virus, the MOH said Omicron cases have “mostly displayed mild symptoms, and no Omicron-related deaths have been reported so far”.

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Common symptoms reported include sore throat, tiredness and cough, the ministry added.

As for reports that there were more Omicron-related hospitalizations among younger people in South Africa, the ministry said this could be due to an overall high infection rate among the population.

Another cause might be that existing patients who were admitted to the hospital for reasons unrelated to COVID-19 tested positive for the variation while there.

“However, it is too early to draw any conclusions about the disease’s severity,” the MOH warned. The epidemic of Omicron was initially discovered in a university town with a youthful population. Hospitalization stays for this group have been brief, according to South African health specialists, ranging from one to two days. MOH stated that additional data on elderly people infected with the Omicron variety is needed to determine whether it is more severe than the Delta variant.

Antigen fast testing, in addition to polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests, have been shown in trials to be successful in identifying COVID-19 infection, including Omicron instances, according to the ministry.

“As a result, testing will continue to be critical to our early discovery and initial control of transmission,” the MOH said.

According to the MOH, the third case’s pre-departure test in Johannesburg on November 29 was negative for COVID-19. When he arrived in Singapore, he was sent to a dedicated stay-at-home facility, and his PCR tests on December 1 and 3 came back negative, according to the ministry. On December 4, he experienced a fever and sore throat and was transported to the National Centre for Infectious Diseases (NCID), where he was “preliminarily positive” for the Omicron strain, according to the Ministry of Health. The individual has been completely immunized and is experiencing just minor symptoms.

“He had not interacted in the community, and there is presently no indication of any community transmission from the case,” the MOH stated, adding that he is recuperating in an isolation ward at NCID. To confirm the variation, the  is performing whole genome sequencing.

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