The potential spread of the highly contagious variant within the community is likely to prompt further concerns about new reversals in the city-state’s reopening as its worst virus surge yet subsides.
The rapid spread of Omicron in other European countries and the US have already prompted new curbs there to slow its surge. Omicron quickly became the dominant variant in the US, rising to 73% of all sequenced Covid-19 cases in the country from around 3% last week, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates.
“Given its high transmissibility and spread to many parts of the world, we should expect to find more Omicron cases at our borders and also within our community,” said the health ministry.
Singapore maintains vaccinated travel lanes 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 following 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.