Imported virus cases soar in Singapore

Imported virus cases soar in Singapore

People take shelter from the rain inside a shopping mall at Marina Bay Sands on the eve of New Year 2022, in Singapore on Dec 31, 2021. (AFP photo)
People take shelter from the rain inside a shopping mall at Marina Bay Sands on the eve of New Year 2022, in Singapore on Dec 31, 2021. (AFP photo)

Singapore reported more Covid-19 infections among travelers from abroad than local cases for the first time in nearly half a year, testing the resolve of the country to keep its borders open amid the worldwide spread of the Omicron coronavirus variant.

There were 260 imported cases reported as of noon on Jan 1, compared to 187 community infections, according to data released by Singapore's Ministry of Health. The last time Covid-19 cases among travelers surpassed local infections was on July 12. 

While Singapore has chosen to freeze ticket sales via its vaccinated travel lanes until late January, the business hub's decision to maintain quarantine-free travel for vaccinated people from several countries, including omicron hotspots such as the UK and US, is increasingly being tested. Other nations, including Thailand, halted quarantine-free entry to prevent the spread of the new variant.

So far, officials in the city-state have also elected to tighten testing requirements for visitors and defer other travel initiatives, while keeping strict domestic virus measures in place, as local clusters of the Omicron variant emerge. 

Singapore is also depending on further vaccinating what is already one of the most inoculated populations in the world to fend of a potential new wave. About 20,000 children have received their first shot since the vaccination drive for them started on Dec 27, Education Minister Chan Chun Sing said in a Facebook post on Sunday.


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