Singapore facing 'snakes and ladders' situation over Omicron variant: Ong Ye Kung, Latest Singapore News - The New Paper
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Singapore facing 'snakes and ladders' situation over Omicron variant: Ong Ye Kung

The Covid-19 situation in Singapore can be compared to a game of snakes and ladders with the Omicron variant determining if the country remains on track to living with the virus, said Health Minister Ong Ye Kung on Tuesday (Nov 30).

If it is more infectious or harmful than other existing variants, and if current vaccines do not work well against it, the country will have landed on a “snake”.

“We will go down, and it will set us back a long way,” said Mr Ong, who co-chairs the multi-ministry task force tackling the pandemic.

If the variant proves to be milder but more infectious, it could become dominant over the Delta variant – a positive sign which could enable Singapore to leap forward in its efforts to treat Covid-19 as an endemic disease.

“We don't know what’s the next throw of the dice and which square we will land in,” the minister said at a press conference chaired by the task force.

“It may just be another variant that makes no great impact. You land on the boring square and we continue our current path to transit to living with Covid-19 as a resilient nation.”

As Singapore and the world work to find out more about the new variant, Mr Ong said the country will take a prudent approach by implementing measures to prevent the Omicron variant from establishing itself in the community.

Little is known about the variant, which was first detected in South Africa and has not yet been reported in Singapore.

Scientists have reported a large number of mutations in the variant’s spike protein – the part of the virus that latches on to human cells. This has raised concerns that vaccine efficacy may be impacted as a result.

The authorities are monitoring the situation closely, said the Health Ministry in a statement on Tuesday.

covid-19ONG YE KUNGLawrence Wong