Ong Ye Kung: S’pore is Always on Lookout for New COVID-19 Variants of Concern


With the COVID-19 situation constantly evolving, you may have heard of the newest COVID-19 variants: XE, XD and XF.

Yup, Omicron’s considered old news now.

You can know more about these “x” variants here:

Thankfully, none of the variants have been detected in Singapore, but Health Minister Ong Ye Kung assured Singaporeans yesterday (3 April) that the country is always keeping up to date with the new variants announced by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

With regards to the XE, XD and XF variants, Mr Ong mentioned that although these variants have been detected in other countries, they are not affecting Singapore as of yet and that they should not cause much concern within the community.

He likened the current situation to us humans, saying, “There are plenty of variants, but many of them are like us humans. Today you wear this earring, tomorrow you change your earring. That’s all it is. You’re still the same person.”

Ok, so if someone gets COVID-19, should they change their earrings or not ah?

What Singapore Needs to Take Note Of

Mr Ong also brought up the actual issues that Singaporeans should be more concerned about, which are the variants that are categorised as “variants of concern” by the WHO. He also added that such variants often have different characteristics from those we have seen in the past.

He explained, “These are either more severe, more transmissible or the vaccines don’t work as well… As of now, we’re watching out for those and monitoring the general development.

“The risk of a variant is always there so it’s one of the things we have to monitor internationally to make sure there are no variants of concern that will pull us back to square one, which is always possible.”

For example, the new XE COVID-19 variant is actually a mutation of the BA.1 and the BA.2 Omicron strains, and has since been detected in the United Kingdom. WHO has announced that it will be monitoring the variant to obtain more information.

Relaxed COVID-19 Restrictions in Singapore

While many of us may have cheered at the restrictions that were relaxed last Tuesday (29 March), most of us have still remained careful about some of them, such as mask-wearing.

Although masks are no longer compulsory when outdoors, most Singaporeans are still choosing to keep their masks on.

I mean, if you told me that everyone you’ve seen has had their mask off, you’re either lying or you haven’t stepped out of the house in a week.

Mr Ong also mentioned that the mindful and wary attitude of Singaporeans is a positive sign.

“When you walk along the streets, most people still have their masks on. But when it’s very hot and you’re walking alone, some take their masks off, which is totally sensible,” he added.


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He also emphasised that Singaporeans will have to have more personal responsibility, which was a point that was brought up during an interview that Mr Ong had last Friday (1 April) with Finance Minister Lawrence Wong.

“We have to move towards that situation so that we can live normally, and so our own personal responsibility becomes very important. So far, I think we’ve done remarkably well,” he concluded.

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Featured Image: YouTube (govsg)