SINGAPORE — 747 new COVID-19 cases were reported in Singapore on Sunday (28 November) alongside 11 deaths due to the disease, even as the city-state deferred the launch of Vaccinated Travel Lanes with Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) amid the emergence of the Omicron variant.
It was the first time since 20 September that the daily tally has gone below 1,000.
The dead were aged between 67 and 98 years and all had various underlying medical conditions, said the Ministry of Health (MOH).
Of the new cases, 719 are community cases, 25 are dormitory resident cases and 3 are imported cases. The country's total case count is now at 262,383.
135 seniors aged 60 and above are among the cases, while the ratio of community cases for the past week over the week before is 0.69. This is the ninth day in a row where the figure is lower than 1.
3 active clusters bring monitored
There are three active COVID-19 clusters being closely monitored in Singapore, comprising three nursing homes.
The largest of these clusters is located at Pacific Healthcare Nursing Home, with 44 cases. There is transmission among residents and staff members.
210 require oxygen supplementation; 27 in ICU
A total of 2,061 cases were discharged on Sunday, of whom 324 are patients aged 60 and above, said the MOH.
Currently, 1,147 cases are warded in hospital. Over the last 28 days, of the 63,816 infected individuals, 98.7 per cent had no or mild symptoms. 0.8 per cent required oxygen supplementation in the general ward, 0.2 per cent were in the intensive care unit (ICU), and 0.2 per cent has died.
There are currently 210 cases of serious illness requiring oxygen supplementation.
A total of 82 cases are in the ICU – 27 are unstable and under close monitoring to prevent further deterioration, while 55 are critically ill and intubated.
The current overall ICU utilisation rate is 57.4 per cent, down from Saturday's 58.6 per cent.
The MOH noted that over the past seven days, the number of fully vaccinated and non-fully vaccinated cases who are critically ill in the ICU are at 0.5 and 4.4 per 100,000 population, respectively.
Over the same period, the number of fully vaccinated and non-fully vaccinated cases who died are 0.04 and 0.4 per 100,000 population, respectively, it added.
Apart from the 665 patients who have died from COVID-19 complications, 15 others who tested positive for the virus were determined to have died from unrelated causes, including three whose deaths were attributed to a heart attack and another four whose deaths were attributed to coronary heart disease.
Separately, the multi-ministry taskforce on COVID-19 (MTF) said that Singapore will be deferring the commencement of the VTLs for Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE until further notice.
The VTLs were scheduled to launch on 6 December, with applications for the Vaccinated Travel Pass (VTP) for short-term visitors and long-term pass holders set to begin on Monday.
On Sunday, the World Health Organization (WHO) classified a potentially more contagious variant of the COVID-19 virus, known as Omicron (B.1.1.529), as a variant of concern. Scientists are presently working to determine the characteristics of the new Omicron variant, such as whether it is more transmissible than the Delta variant, and if it is more likely to lead to severe illnesses.
While Singapore has not detected any cases of Omicron to date, it is deferring the launch of the VTLs as a precautionary measure. "This is in view of their proximity as transport nodes to the affected countries of Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, and Zimbabwe," said MOH.
The ministry added, "We are reviewing our border measures, and will announce more details soon."
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