Covid-19 XBB subvariant highly transmissible in S’pore but may not be as severe

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Covid-19 cases have been on the rise mainly due to the Omicron XBB subvariant.

In a Ministry of Health (MOH) press conference on Oct. 15, Health Minister Ong Ye Kung said that within three weeks, XBB has out-competed every other Covid-19 subvariant.

XBB is now the predominant subvariant circulating in the community, accounting for 54 per cent of local cases during the week of Oct. 3 to Oct. 9, from 22 per cent from the previous week.

XBB highly transmissible

There is evidence that XBB may be driving an increase in reinfections, MOH noted in its press release (Oct. 15).

The proportion of reinfections among total Covid-19 cases in Singapore has been increasing over the past month, with reinfections currently making up about 17 per cent of total new cases.

However, while XBB is highly transmissible, it may not be as virulent or lead to more severe infections compared to other variants.

In the same press conference, MOH’s director of medical services Kenneth Mak said: “This, of course, is what we hoped for because if we can have a variant that outcompetes all the other variants but, in fact, contributes to less severe infections… that would be a lesser burden on our hospital resources.”

He added that MOH will continue to monitor the situation over the next two weeks to see whether this trend continues to hold forth.

“Therefore, that might give us more confidence that our healthcare system is indeed more resilient and able to take the current wave in stride without the need to reimpose other measures,” he said.

Ramped up measures

Based on current information, MOH expects that the XBB infection wave will peak by around mid-November 2022.

In response to the surge over the past two weeks, public hospitals have rapidly activated various measures to operate about additional 200 beds to care for hospitalised Covid-19 patients.

In the coming two weeks, public hospitals will operate a total of more than 800 beds for Covid-19 patients.

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Top image by Roslan Rahman/AFP via Getty Images.

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Donovan Larsen

Donovan is a columnist and associate editor at the Dark News. He has written on everything from the politics to diversity issues in the workplace.

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