SINGAPORE — The Ministry of Health (MOH) on Thursday (23 April) confirmed 1,037 new COVID-19 cases and six more clusters in Singapore, bringing the total to 11,178 – the highest recorded in Southeast Asia.
Of the 1,037 new cases, 982, or almost 95 per cent, are foreign workers living in dormitories. This comes three days after it confirmed a single-day high of 1,426 new cases.
Four of the six clusters are linked to foreign worker dorms: Blue Stars Dormitory at 3 Kian Teck Lane, Hulett Dormitory at 20 Senoko Drive, Seatown Dormitory at 69H Tuas South Avenue 1 and Woodlands Dormitory at 27 Woodlands Sector 1.
The remaining two are linked to 12 Loyang Drive and 59 Sungei Kadut Loop.
As with previous days, the MOH said many of the cases in dorms are being picked up due to extensive testing.
“Most of these cases have a mild illness and are being monitored in the community isolation facilities or general ward of our hospitals. None of them is in the intensive care unit,” the ministry added.
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Of the remaining cases, 30 are foreign workers living outside dorms while 22 are cases in the community, including 22 Singaporeans and permanent residents.
Overall, 25 per cent of the new cases have no established links.
The MOH said that the number of new cases in the community has decreased from an average of 34 cases per day in the week before, to an average of 25 per day in the past week.
“The number of unlinked cases in the community has decreased slightly, from an average of 20 cases per day in the week before, to an average of 18 per day in the past week,” it added.
“We will continue to closely monitor these numbers, as well as the cases detected through our surveillance programme.”
Separately, the ministry noted that the number of new cases among foreign workers residing outside dorms has continued to increase, from an average of 16 cases per day in the week before, to an average of 30 per day in the past week.
Some 45 clusters linked to foreign worker dorms have been identified thus far, including Singapore’s largest cluster of 2,234 cases linked to S11 Dormitory@Punggol, followed by Sungei Tengah Lodge linked to 752 cases, and Tuas View Dormitory linked to 704 cases.
The three are among 21 such dorms that have been gazetted as isolation areas. They account for almost 41 per cent of the total 9,076 infected cases living in dorms across Singapore.
Some 300,000 foreign workers live in dorms here in Singapore.
(For details on the breakdown of clusters, read here.)
Thye Hua Kwan Moral Charities staff among new cases
The Agency for Integrated Care (AIC) confirmed In a separate statement on Thursday that one of the new cases is a 33-year-old staff member who works at Thye Hua Kwan Moral Charities (THKMC).
The man is based out of THKMC’s office premises and provides personal care services to home-bound clients at their residences, said the agency.
He tested positive for the virus on Wednesday and is now warded at Singapore General Hospital. The man was last at work on Monday.
The AIC said that the THKMC has put in place additional precautionary measures in consultation with the MOH and the agency. These include cleaning and disinfecting their office premises and equipment that the staff may have used.
“Contact tracing is ongoing and those who had close contact with the staff will be quarantined,” it added.
36 more patients recovered, 26 in ICU
The MOH on Thursday also said 36 more patients have been discharged from hospitals or community isolation facilities. In all, 896 patients have fully recovered and have been discharged.
Most of the 1,368 hospitalised cases are stable or improving, while 26 are in critical condition in the intensive care unit, up from 25 on Wednesday.
A total of 8,874 cases who have mild symptoms or are clinically well but still test positive for COVID-19, are isolated and cared for at community facilities.
To date, 12 cases here have died from complications due to COVID-19 infection, including an 84-year-old Singaporean woman who succumbed to the virus on Tuesday night.
Three patients, who tested positive for the virus, have died from causes unrelated to COVID-19. The latest such fatality was a 40-year-old Malaysian man who died of a heart attack on Saturday. He had tested positive for the virus the day before.
Separately, a 46-year-old Indian migrant worker, identified by the ministry as case 8190, died after being found at a staircase landing in Khoo Teck Puat Hospital on Thursday. He had tested positive for COVID-19 prior to his death. Police investigations into the case of unnatural death are ongoing.
As of 14 April, the ministry has conducted 94,796 swab tests, of which 59,737 were done on unique individuals.
Circuit breaker period extended, more shops to suspend operations
On Tuesday, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced that the end of the circuit breaker period will be extended by four weeks to 1 June, from 4 May as previously planned.
Tighter measures will also be in place during this extension, including entry to certain wet markets on alternate dates based on one’s identification number. Less critical businesses, such as bubble tea shops and those predominantly selling pastries or cakes, will be closed from 11.59pm on Tuesday until at least 4 May.
Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat also on Tuesday announced that the Solidarity Budget will be boosted by a further $3.8 billion, bringing the government’s total financial assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic to more than $63 billion.
The COVID-19 Temporary Measures Act, passed in Parliament on 7 April, gives authorities the power to ban events and gatherings, or impose conditions on how they are conducted, during the circuit breaker period.
Those caught flouting the enhanced safe distancing measures, including compulsory mask-wearing, for the first time will be given a composition fine of $300, and a $1,000 fine for the second time.
Egregious cases will be prosecuted in court. A first-time offender who is prosecuted under the Act can face a maximum fine of $10,000, or a jail term of up to six months, or both. A second-time or subsequent offender can face a maximum fine of $20,000, or a jail term of up to a year, or both.
Separately, all Singapore residents and long-term pass holders returning from overseas apart from Hubei province must serve the 14-day stay-home notice, while those returning from Hubei must serve a 14-day quarantine.
All short-term visitors are barred from entering or transiting via Singapore.
Over 2.6m cases globally
To date, there are over 2.6 million COVID-19 cases globally – it took 83 days to reach the first million cases worldwide and just 14 days for the second million.
Some 187,000 have died from the virus, with the US holding the record for the highest global death toll at over 48,000.
At more than 852,000 cases, the country also holds the record of having the largest number of patients globally, followed by Spain at over 213,000 cases, Italy at over 187,000, and France with close to 160,000 cases.
China, where the virus originated, has reported over 82,000 cases and more than 4,600 deaths, after it abruptly readjusted its death toll higher by 50 per cent last Friday.
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