Ong Ye Kung: COVID-19 Restrictions Can Be Eased Once Omicron Wave Has Peaked & Subsided

Maybe you’re the sixth friend in your friend group.

Maybe you just want to sing your heart out at a KTV lounge with a mic. (Not that kind of KTV lounge.)

Or maybe you’re tying the knot soon and want to invite your entire social circle to your wedding.

Regardless of why you want the COVID-19 restrictions to be relaxed, we’ve got you: They might be in the upcoming months.

COVID-19 Restrictions Might Be Relaxed in Coming Months

Yesterday (14 February), Minister for Health Ong Ye Kung announced that COVID-19 safe management measures may be relaxed after the number of Omicron cases peaks and subsides.

He also mentioned that the government will “continue to monitor the key indicators closely” before deciding when and how to relax the measures.

With the Omicron wave resulting in almost 10,000 cases per day as of now, it might still be a while before we see any measures being relaxed. This is especially so due to how we might be seeing 15,000 or even 20,000 daily cases at the peak of this wave, as predicted by the minister.

However, despite a large number of daily cases, the impact of the Omicron variant has been “significantly more moderate” than that of the Delta variant.

This is due to the fact that Omicron generally results in milder infections as compared to Delta.

Additionally, vaccination rates have remained high in Singapore, which has also contributed to the less severe infections.

“Because of these reasons, while the daily infection numbers are high, the vast majority of cases have mild or no symptoms, and very few develop severe illness and require oxygen supplementation or ICU care, or have passed away,” he added.

So go get jabbed if you haven’t ok. If not, later you end up being the zeroth friend in your friend group…

Key Signs to Relaxing Measures

The main indicators to see whether or not we can ease our COVID-19 restrictions are the number of daily infections, death rates as well as hospitalisation rates.

The number of daily infections is pretty self-explanatory: We’ll probably need to see the number of cases fall to a pretty low and stable number.

Death Rates

As for the death rates, the minister noted that the number of Omicron-related deaths has been much fewer than the number of Delta-related deaths, even though the number of cases has nearly tripled since the peak of the Delta wave.

For comparison, there were an average of 13 COVID-19 deaths per day during the peak of the Delta wave, while currently there is an average of two to three deaths per day.

Death Rate Compared to Other Viral Infections

Another factor that also needs to be taken into account is the number of COVID-19 related deaths relative to the number of deaths caused by other viral infections.

According to Mr Ong, “For now, the case mortality due to the Omicron variant is not very different from the number of deaths related to various viral infections pre-COVID.

“Prior to COVID-19, over 4,000 patients a year (or over 10 a day) passed on due to pneumonia, usually caused by infections.”

Hospitalisation Rates

Currently, around 1,200 COVID-19 cases are hospitalised.

30% of the cases come from those who were warded for other cases but were later found to have COVID-19 as well. Patients like these have mostly been asymptomatic, or have very mild symptoms.

In addition to that, the nature of the Omicron variant also allows hospital beds to be vacated at a faster rate as compared to Delta, allowing more patients to be treated within the same period of time.

“Most Omicron patients also have a short hospital stay of about 3 to 4 days, compared to 5 to 8 days for patients infected with the Delta variant,” the minister noted.

However, there is still a great need to free up beds in hospitals, and Mr Ong has highlighted the number of beds available in hospitals as “probably the biggest constraint now”.

To tackle that, suitable patients can be transferred to designated COVID-19 treatment facilities. Currently, about 25% of the 3,800 beds in the treatment facilities are occupied. There are also plans to add more beds, bringing the total number of beds in these facilities up to 4,600 by end-February.

Oxygen Supplementation

As for oxygen supplementation, only approximately 0.3% of Omicron cases, or around 130 people as of now, have needed it. During the peak of the Delta wave, around 325 patients required oxygen supplementation.

And although the demand for oxygen supplementation may rise with the increase in cases, Mr Ong noted that it is “not a constraint” given that there is more than sufficient supply to go around.

Join our Telegram channel for more entertaining and informative articles at or download the Goody Feed app here: 

ICU Hospitalisation Rates

Intensive Care Units (ICU) hospitalisation rates have also fallen greatly; only around 0.05% of COVID-19 patients are warded in the ICU now.

Again, as compared to the Delta wave, the number of people currently warded in ICUs is around 30, a much lower rate than the 170 people who were in the ICU during the peak of the Delta wave.

With 113 ICU beds across Singapore, the ICUs are currently “not coming under pressure, and (are) in good shape”. If the demand calls for it, the number of beds can be increased to 350 or even 500.

Healthcare Workers and Manpower

In his address, Minister Ong also expressed his gratitude towards healthcare workers.

“Our healthcare workers have been battling the pandemic at the frontlines for more than two years now. They have persevered through the Delta wave, and are now fighting the Omicron wave. I want to convey my deepest appreciation to them.”

He also noted that the amount of manpower available in the healthcare sector, where healthcare personnel are all “very busy and stretched”, is also a factor that is taken into consideration when deciding how and when to relax COVID-19 restrictions.

Apart from that, although some countries have seen vast numbers of their healthcare workers quitting their jobs, that rate has remained low and “comparable to 2019, before COVID-19 hit” at around 3-5% for doctors in Singapore.

As for nurses, that rate is around 8%, which is also similar to pre-pandemic times. The absenteeism rate due to the pandemic has been hovering at around 2%, and Mr Ong reported that it is “manageable” as well.

He once again emphasised how the government will continue to work with healthcare professionals in order to ensure that manpower remains sufficient in the healthcare sector.

“We do not take this for granted, and will continue to support our healthcare professionals. We are also working closely with clusters to help them recruit new healthcare workers,” he concluded.

Read Also:

Featured Image: YouTube (govsg)