Singapore Detects First Locally Transmitted Omicron Case

The 24-year-old airport employee has no recent history of travel, though she may have interacted with travellers from Omicron-affected countries.

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 10 – Singapore reported its first locally transmitted Omicron case in an airport staff, health authorities said on Thursday, warning that more cases of the new variant will likely be detected in light of growing evidence of its high transmissibility.

The health ministry, in a statement yesterday, said the 24-year-old Singaporean woman, who works in a service role in the airport, may have interacted with transit passengers from countries affected by the Omicron variant that was first documented in South Africa.

The woman tested for Covid-19 on December 8 as part of weekly rostered routine testing for border frontline workers, and her PCR test result revealed traces linked to the Omicron variant.

She was asymptomatic when detected through the routine testing, and may have been in the early stages of infection. Upon being notified of her positive test result, she self-isolated at home until she was taken to the National Centre for Infectious Diseases. Singapore’s National Public Health Laboratory is conducting whole-genome sequencing to confirm the variant.

The second case is a 46-year-old woman, a permanent resident who returned to Singapore via a vaccinated travel lane from Germany on December 6.

Her pre-departure test in France on December 4 and her PCR test in Singapore on December 6 was negative for the coronavirus, but she developed a runny nose a day later and sought medical attention on December 8. She tested positive for Covid-19 infection on the same day, and was confirmed to have signs of Omicron.

Contact tracing for both cases is ongoing, the health ministry said, and all close contacts will be placed on 10-day quarantine at designated facilities and undergo PCR tests at the start and end of their quarantine. 

All airport staff are already PCR-tested every seven days. As an additional precautionary measure, they will also be required to conduct daily antigen rapid tests for the next seven days.

“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,” the health ministry said.

Singapore has vaccinated 96 per cent of its eligible population, and authorities are urging the public to get booster shots amid concerns over the Omicron variant.

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