No local residents among 373 new COVID-19 infections in Singapore; total passes 33,000 mark

People wearing protective masks walking past an advertising billboard here on 26 May, 2020. (PHOTO: Getty Images)

SINGAPORE — The Ministry of Health (MOH) confirmed on Thursday (28 May) 373 new COVID-19 cases in Singapore, bringing the total to 33,249, as well as 1,018 more recoveries.

There are no Singaporeans or permanent residents among the new cases, a first since 23 February as there were no cases reported in the city-state that day.

Of them, 372 are foreign workers living in dormitories, said the ministry, while the remaining case is a 49-year-old female Chinese national classified as an unlinked case in the community.

The MOH said that the woman, who was asymptomatic, was picked up as a result of mass screening of preschool staff members, but did not identify the school she was working at. “The MOH will conduct a serological test to determine if this was a past or current infection,” it added.

The woman is also one of 13 preschool staff members who tested positive. Eleven have tested positive in their serological tests which is indicative of past infections, while the remaining male staff’s results are pending.

More than 39,000 preschool staff have so far been swab-tested, said the MOH on Thursday night.

Overall, only one per cent of the 373 new cases have no established links.

The MOH said that the number of new cases in the community has decreased from an average of six cases per day in the week before, to an average of five per day in the past week.

It added that the number of unlinked cases in the community has remained stable at an average of two per day in the past two weeks.

The ministry also announced two additional clusters linked to a dorm at 15 Kaki Bukit Road 4, and a dorm at 31 Kranji Crescent.

Dozens of clusters linked to foreign worker dorms have been identified thus far, including Singapore’s largest cluster of 2,685 cases linked to S11 Dormitory@Punggol, followed by Sungei Tengah Lodge with 1,966 cases, Tuas View Dormitory with 1,336 cases and Jurong Penjuru Dormitory with 1,201 cases.

The four are among the 25 dorms that have been gazetted as isolation areas and account for some 23 per cent of the total 30,995 infected foreign workers living in dorms. Some 400,000 workers live in dorms here in Singapore.

Some 20,000 infected foreign workers are expected to be discharged by the end of this month, said National Development Minister Lawrence Wong at a press conference on 12 May.

Since Monday, the MOH has been publishing a list of locations visited by cases in the community for over 30 minutes. This list – which excludes residences, workplaces, healthcare facilities, and public transport – will be updated on a rolling 14-days basis or one incubation period, the ministry said.

As a precautionary measure, the MOH advised those who had been at these locations during the specified timings to monitor their health closely for 14 days from their date of visit.

They have also been urged by the ministry to visit the doctor if they develop symptoms such as cough, sore throat, as well as fever and loss of taste or smell, and inform the doctor of their exposure history.

(For more details on clusters in Singapore, read here.)

Over 18,200 discharged in total

With 1,018 more cases of COVID-19 infection discharged from hospitals or community isolation facilities, a total of 18,294 cases – more than half of the total infections here – here have fully recovered from the infection, said the MOH on Thursday.

Most of the 510 hospitalised cases are stable or improving, while seven are in critical condition in the intensive care unit.

A total of 14,422 patients who have mild symptoms or are clinically well but still test positive are isolated and cared for at community facilities.

Apart from 23 patients who have died from COVID-19 complicationsnine others who tested positive for the virus have died from unrelated causes, including three whose deaths were attributed to a heart attack and two whose deaths were attributed to coronary heart disease.

“Only cases where the attending doctor or pathologist attributes the primary or underlying cause of death as due to COVID-19 infection will be added to the COVID-19 death count,” said the MOH in previous press releases, adding that the method of assessment is consistent with international practices for classifying deaths.

It had also noted that 86 male foreign workers aged 25 to 59 died due to heart disease in Singapore in 2018.

As of 25 May, the ministry has conducted 334,691 swab tests, of which 218,996 were done on unique individuals. This translates to around 58,700 swabs conducted per 1 million total population, and about 38,400 unique individuals swabbed per 1 million total population.

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