SINGAPORE — The Ministry of Health (MOH) on Friday (27 March) identified 49 new COVID-19 cases in Singapore and a new cluster at SingPost Centre, taking the country’s total to 732.
This comes two days after the city-state reported a single-day high of 73 cases.
The ages for the 49 new cases ranged from as young as 1 year old to 77 years old. Of them, 22 are imported and 27 are local cases with no recent travel history abroad.
The 22 imported cases had travel history to Europe, North America, and South-East Asia. All except two were returning residents and long-term pass holders.
18 new cases are linked to clusters or previous patients, including:
two linked to the newest cluster at SingPost Centre at 10 Eunos Road 8
five linked to a cluster at Fengshan PAP Community Foundation (PCF) Sparkletots preschool at 126 Bedok North Street 2
three linked to a cluster Dover Court International School at 301 Dover Road
Contact tracing is ongoing for the nine remaining local transmissions with no established links, said the MOH.
3 employees linked to new SingPost Centre cluster
The newest cluster involved three employees working on the same floor at the packet-processing facility at SingPost Centre, a spokesperson confirmed.
A contract staff working at the facility tested positive for the virus on Wednesday, while two full-time staff working on the same floor tested positive for the virus two days later. The trio was working at a restricted packet-sorting area.
“This is despite SingPost’s strict health-screening and social distancing protocol for all contractors and staff members,” the spokesperson added.
“All employees working on the same floor as the confirmed cases have also been instructed to stay home until further notice, while contact tracing efforts are underway.”
Young children linked to Fengshan Sparkletots cluster
Among the five new cases linked to the preschool cluster are a 67-year-old female non-teaching staff member who was earlier already placed on quarantine.
The remaining four are young children: two-year-old, six-year-old and 13-year-old girls as well as an 11-year-old boy.
In total, 25 cases are linked to the preschool cluster, of which 16 are staff members, and nine – including the four young children – are family members of case 601, a 47-year-old Singaporean woman identified by the authorities on Wednesday as the centre’s principal.
The six-year-old girl is enrolled at PPIS Child Development Centre’s Bedok Reservoir branch, said an Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA) spokesperson.
She was last at the centre on 11 March and was well then, added the spokesperson.
“As the child’s last contact with the PPIS Centre was 15 days before being tested positive, the PPIS Centre is not required to close for 14 days,” the ECDA spokesperson said.
The centre had cleaned and disinfected its premises on Wednesday and will close on Saturday for a further round of cleaning and disinfection.
Barring any new developments, the centre will resume operations on Monday, the spokesperson added.
Separately, a total of seven cases are linked to the cluster at Dover Court International School, of which six are staff members while one is a contact of a staff member.
11 more discharged, 17 in ICU
Separately, the MOH said that 11 more patients have been discharged from hospital, bringing the total to 183 fully recovered and discharged.
Most of the remaining 432 hospitalised cases are stable or improving, while 17 are in critical condition in the intensive care unit, down from 18 on Thursday.
The ministry said that 115 cases who are clinically well but still test positive for the virus are cared for at the Concord International Hospital, Mount Elizabeth Hospital and the community isolation facility at D’Resort NTUC.
Singapore’s first two deaths from COVID-19 – a 75-year-old Singaporean woman and a 64-year-old Indonesian man – were announced last Saturday.
The MOH also said that contact tracing is underway for 58 local transmissions with no links to previous cases or travel history to affected countries or regions. Based on calculations derived from MOH data, there are 318 locally transmitted cases.
According to the MOH, a total of 414 cases here are imported, of which 47 are visitors.
3,300 currently quarantined; 38,000 serving stay-home notices
As of Friday noon, the MOH has identified 10,346 close contacts who have been quarantined. Of these, 3,330 are currently quarantined, and 7,016 have completed their quarantine.
On Wednesday, National Development Minister Lawrence Wong said in Parliament that 38,000 people in Singapore are currently serving the mandatory 14-day stay-home notices, with the figure expected to rise with more returning here.
Cases will similarly continue to rise, as some of around 200,000 overseas Singaporeans return home, said Health Minister and COVID-19 multi-ministry taskforce co-chair Gan Kim Yong on the same day.
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.
Wong, who is also the taskforce co-chair, had described Singapore’s situation as being in a “critical phase” in its fight against the virus and noted the possibility for the introduction of more drastic measures as cases continue to rise.
These would include the suspension of schools and closure of some workplaces, aside from those providing essential services.
Penalties for those flouting social distancing regulations
Stricter measures were announced on Tuesday to combat community transmission of the virus, including capping social gatherings to 10 people or less as well as closing all entertainment venues – including bars, clubs and cinemas – from 11.59pm on Thursday till end-April, or longer.
Patients who flout their five-day medical leave can face steep penalties such as a fine of up to $10,000, according to the MOH’s latest update to the Infectious Diseases Act.
Such penalties also apply to those who intentionally sit on a seat or stand in a queue less than one metre away from another person in public venues, from now till end-April.
Anyone who flouts the 14-day stay-home notice by leaving the place of accommodation or residence they are serving the notice in will also be subjected to the same penalties.
The Singapore government will allocate over $48 billion to combat the “unprecedented” COVID-19 crisis, said Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat in his Ministerial Statement delivered in Parliament on Thursday.
The sum is on top of the $6.4 billion Unity Budget announced by Heng in February that was meant to alleviate the economic impact of the pandemic.
To date, there are over 550,000 COVID-19 cases globally. Close to 26,000 have died from the virus, with the death tolls in Spain and Italy accounting for over half of the figure.
Italy is now the country with the highest number of fatalities, followed by Spain which surpassed China’s official count on Wednesday. At over 85,000 cases, the US has overtaken China for the largest number of patients.
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