S'pore tracking Omicron Covid variant very closely: PM Lee

Singapore: Singapore is tracking the emerging Omicron COVID-19 variant very closely and could be forced to take a few steps back again before moving ahead with easing of safety measures and opening up the economy, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said on Sunday.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) on Friday declared Omicron "a variant of concern", putting it in the same category as the Delta variant that has caused waves of infection to sweep across the globe and forcing several European countries to re-enter lockdown.

The new variant is considered potentially more dangerous because it has around twice as many mutations as Delta, but experts say how much of a concern is still under investigation. Omicron, also called B.1.1.529, has also been detected in Belgium, Israel and Hong Kong, and possibly in Germany and the Czech Republic.

Prime Minister Lee, in his address to the ruling People's Action Party (PAP) convention, said that right now, a new variant of concern is emerging.

We've learnt a new word the Omicron variant. We are tracking this very closely. We are not sure yet, but we may well be forced to take a few steps back, before we can take more steps forward. "But despite all this, I am confident that we will find our way to living with the virus, and safely resume all the things we love to do. We are making all this effort because we want to get there safely, suffering as few casualties along the way as possible," Channel News Asia quoted the Prime Minister

as saying.

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