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Commentary: Is Singapore ready for another COVID-19 wave?

SINGAPORE: The number of COVID-19 cases is rising. The reinfection rate is climbing. The XBB Omicron subvariant is increasingly driving most of the daily new cases. And many of us may feel like we are trapped in a never-ending loop.

Take a breath. Let’s take a step back and look at the bigger picture.

Since the end of September, the number of new locally transmitted cases has hovered around 3,000 to 4,000 a day. But on Tuesday (Oct 11), new local infections spiked to 11,399, the highest in almost three months, sparking concern on social media. The weekly infection ratio also increased to 1.74 as of Oct 10.

Singapore is also seeing a rise in reinfection rates. Currently at 15 per cent, Singapore could see a new COVID-19 wave if the reinfection rate climbs to 50 per cent, said Health Minister Ong Ye Kung on Tuesday. However, reinfections are expected as the level of immunity of the vaccinated population wanes.

The authorities have also cautioned on the rise of the XBB Omicron subvariant. While XBB cases have not proven to be more serious than other Omicron subvariants, the variant now makes up more than half of all the daily cases.

Related:

Commentary: Just how concerned should we be about COVID-19 reinfections?

Commentary: Singapore must be flexible in COVID-19 rules if another dangerous variant emerges

Together with the easing of safe management measures, such as the lifting of the mask mandate indoors (except on public transport and in healthcare institutions) and the lifting of vaccination-differentiated measures, it is understandable that some people may feel slightly apprehensive going into the last quarter of the year.

So, should we be worried about another wave of infection with these numbers?

WHAT CAN BE CONTROLLED?

To try and answer the question, consider the factors that can be controlled, and those that can’t.

First, let’s look at the factors that can be controlled.

The first would be vaccination. Singapore has one of the highest vaccination rates in the world, and over the past two years, this has served us greatly in reducing cases of severe illnesses and deaths due to COVID-19.

Omicron came and put up a strong challenge to our immunity, but even with the increased transmissibility and immune-evasive properties of the variant, cases of severe illness and deaths were mostly kept at bay.

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