XBB subvariant more transmissible but may be less virulent, no ICU cases in Singapore infected with it
None of the Covid-19 patients currently in Singapore intensive care units was infected with the XBB strain of the Omicron variant which has been driving up case numbers.
Although the XBB subvariant is highly transmissible, Singapore's director of medical services Kenneth Mak said it may be less virulent than prior waves of the virus.
This, he added, is "what we hoped for".
Associate Professor Mak said: "If we can have a variant that out-competes all the other variants, but in fact contribute to less severe infections... that would be a lesser burden on our hospital resources."
The latest rise reflects a new wave of Covid-19 cases for Singapore, with more than 9,000 reported to the Ministry of Health (MOH) on Friday.
The XBB subvariant accounted for 54 per cent of local cases during the week of Oct 3 to Oct 9.
This was an increase from the week prior, when XBB cases made up 22 per cent of local Covid-19 cases.
The subvariant has been detected in countries such as Australia, Bangladesh, Denmark, India, Japan and the United States since August.
Data from MOH has shown that in the last two weeks, XBB cases are estimated to have a 30 per cent lower risk of hospitalisation compared with the previously predominant BA.5 variant cases, which are estimated to account for 21 per cent of local cases.
The ministry said it will continue to monitor the situation, even though the number of severe cases has been low, with a majority of patients reporting mild symptoms such as sore throat or slight fever, especially if they have been vaccinated.
However, vaccinated individuals may still get infected with the XBB strain, with booster jabs recommended for those who are eligible.