Four locals among 248 new COVID-19 cases in S'pore; 11 in the community

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Subway commuters emerge from the Raffles Place MRT exit in Singapore Tuesday, June 2, 2020. Singapore reopened 75 percent of its economy Tuesday, as part of a three-phase controlled approach to end a virus lockdown since early April. (AP Photo/YK Chan)
Subway commuters at Raffles Place MRT Station in Singapore. (PHOTO: AP/YK Chan)

SINGAPORE — The Ministry of Health (MOH) confirmed 248 more COVID-19 cases on Thursday (16 July), bringing the total to 47,126, as well as 268 additional recoveries.

Of them, 11 – including two Singaporeans – are classified as cases in the community, while four – half of whom are Singaporeans – are imported cases. The remaining 233 are foreign workers residing in dormitories.

Overall, four per cent of the new cases have no established links.

All of the 11 community cases, except for one, are asymptomatic and were detected through proactive testing, said the ministry. Apart from the two Singaporeans, they consist of five work pass, two work permit and two dependant’s pass holders.

Five of them are linked to previous cases or clusters. Of these, two – cases 47173 and 47174 – had been identified as contacts of previously confirmed cases and had been tested during their quarantine to determine their status.

Another two – cases 47086 and 47088 – were swabbed as part of the periodic screening of workers in the construction sector. The fifth linked community case – no. 47181– was identified via the testing of individuals working in frontline COVID-19 operations and is linked to the cluster at Toh Guan Dormitory.

Five of the six unlinked community cases – no. 47085, 47090, 47092, 47093, and 47170 – had been detected as a result of the screening of workers in essential services who are living outside dorms.

Epidemiological investigations are ongoing for the remaining case – no. 47204 – who was swabbed under the enhanced community testing to test all individuals aged 13 and above who are diagnosed with acute respiratory infection at first presentation to a doctor.

“Epidemiological investigations of the unlinked cases are in progress. In the meantime, all the identified close contacts of the cases have been isolated and placed on quarantine, and will be tested at the start and end of their quarantine period so that we can detect asymptomatic cases,” said the MOH.

Serological tests will also be conducted on their household contacts to determine if these cases could have been infected by them, it added.

Amongst the four imported cases, three – no. 47084, 47087, and 47091 – are Singapore residents who returned from the USA on 3 July and Azerbaijan on 4 July.

The remaining case – no. 47058 – is a work pass holder who is currently employed in Singapore and arrived here from Indonesia on 4 July.

“All of them had been placed on 14-day stay-home notice upon arrival in Singapore, and had been tested while serving their notice,” the MOH said.

The ministry added that the number of new cases in the community has decreased, from an average of 16 cases per day in the week before, to an average of 12 per day in the past week.

Similarly, the number of unlinked cases in the community has also decreased, from an average of eight cases per day in the week before, to an average of seven per day in the past week, it said.

As of Tuesday, more than 215,000 foreign workers – or two-thirds of those living in dorms – have been tested and cleared in an ongoing effort, said the ministry. Of Singapore’s total COVID-19 tally, 44,404 – some 94 per cent – are workers living in dorms.

“We are on track to clear about 80 per cent of workers staying in the dorms by end-July, and to complete the testing of dorm residents around mid-August,” the MOH added on Tuesday.

The ministry also said to expect a higher number of confirmed cases from foreign workers living in dorms over the new few days.

“In the next few days, we have a larger population of migrant workers in various purpose-built dorms completing their isolation period and being tested for COVID-19,” it added, noting that some of them came from dorms with a higher prevalence of COVID-19 infection.

92% of cases recovered, zero in ICU

With 268 more patients discharged from hospitals or community isolation facilities on Thursday, 43,256 cases – some 92 per cent of the total tally – have fully recovered from the infection.

Most of the 146 hospitalised cases are stable or improving, while none are in critical condition in the intensive care unit.

A total of 3,697 patients with mild symptoms or are clinically well but still test positive are isolated and cared for at community facilities.

Apart from 27 patients who have died from COVID-19 complications, 14 others who tested positive for the virus were determined to have died from unrelated causes, including three whose deaths were attributed to a heart attack and another four, 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.

As of 13 July, the ministry has conducted 1,009,532 swab tests, of which 519,911 were done on unique individuals. This translates to around 177,100 swabs conducted per 1 million total population, and about 91,200 unique individuals swabbed per 1 million total population.

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