FLiRT variants drive two-thirds of COVID cases; peak expected in Jun: Singapore


Singapore is seeing a rise in COVID cases and a peak is expected between mid and end of June. “We are at the beginning part of the wave where it is steadily rising,” said Health Minister Ong Ye Kung. “So, I would say the wave should peak in the next two to four weeks, which means between mid- and end of June,” The Straits Times newspaper quoted the minister as saying.

The new set of COVID variants, termed collectively as FLiRT, are behind the surge of COVID cases in Singapore. As per regional news reports, currently, KP.1 and KP.2 account for over two-thirds of cases in Singapore. As of May 3, the World Health Organisation has classified KP.2 as a variant under monitoring. There are currently no indications, globally or locally, that KP.1 and KP.2 are more transmissible or cause more severe disease than other circulating variants, the MOH said.

As per the data shared by the Ministry of Health Singapore, the number of COVID-19 cases in the week of May 5 to 11 was 25,900, a higher count than 13,700 its previous week. The average daily COVID-19 hospitalisations rose to about 250 from 181 the week before. The average daily intensive care unit (ICU) cases remained low at three cases, compared with two cases in the previous week.

There are no plans for any form of social restrictions or any other mandatory kind of measures for now, as COVID-19 is treated as an endemic disease in Singapore, Health Minister Ong Ye Kung said, adding that imposing additional measures would be a last resort. He said that with Singapore being a transport and communications hub, it will be one of the cities to get a wave of COVID-19 earlier than others. “So, COVID-19 is just something that we have to live with. Every year, we should expect one or two waves,” he said.

Currently, 91 cases of FLiRT have been identified in India. However, no cases of severity or any distinct symptoms have come to the fore. The FLiRT cases are found in several regions of Maharashtra.

Preventing COVID-19 involves several key practices. Wear a mask in crowded or indoor settings to reduce virus transmission. Maintain social distancing by keeping at least six feet from others. Wash hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, or use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Avoid touching your face, especially eyes, nose, and mouth. Stay home if you feel unwell and seek medical advice if you exhibit symptoms. Get vaccinated and keep up with booster doses as recommended. Ensure proper ventilation in indoor spaces and regularly clean and disinfect frequently-touched surfaces to minimize risk.

COVID-19 symptoms range from mild to severe and typically appear 2-14 days after exposure. Common symptoms include fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Additional signs are fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, sore throat, and congestion or runny nose. Loss of taste or smell is a distinctive symptom. Some individuals experience gastrointestinal issues like nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea. Severe cases may lead to difficulty breathing, persistent chest pain, confusion, and bluish lips or face, requiring immediate medical attention. Symptoms vary widely, and some people remain asymptomatic while still being contagious.

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