SINGAPORE – The Ministry of Health (MOH) on Monday (20 April) confirmed 1,426 more COVID-19 cases and three new clusters here, bringing the total to 8,014 – the highest recorded in Southeast Asia.
Of the 1,426 new local transmissions, 1,369, or 96 per cent, are work permit holders residing in foreign worker dormitories.
Two of the three new clusters are linked to foreign worker dormitories: Woodlands Lodge II at 190 Woodlands Industrial Park E7 and Jurong Apartments at 555 Upper Jurong Road. The remaining is linked to 8 Sungei Kadut Loop.
Of the new cases, 25 are in the local community, including 18 Singaporeans and permanent residents. The ministry said that the number of community cases has decreased to an average of 29 cases per day in the past week from an average of 39 per day in a week earlier.
The remaining 32 are work permit holders residing outside dorms. This figure has continued to increase, to an average of 24 cases per day in the past week from an average of 13 per day a week earlier, said the MOH.
As for the “many more” cases living in dorms, they are picked up due to extensive testing and are not new infections as the workers are staying in their rooms and many have not reported sick, added the ministry.
“But when the teams go in to test them, many turn out to be positive. Most of these cases have a mild illness and are being monitored in the community isolation facilities or general ward of our hospitals,” it said. “None of them are in the intensive care unit.”
About 37 per cent of the new cases have no established links. “The number of unlinked cases in the community has remained relatively constant, with an average of 20 cases per day for the past two weeks,” said the ministry.
“We will continue to closely monitor these numbers, as well as the cases detected through our surveillance programme.”
(For more details on the breakdown of the clusters, read here.)
33 more patients discharged; 23 in ICU
The MOH on Monday also confirmed that 33 more patients have been discharged from hospitals or community isolation facilities, bringing the total of recovered cases to 801.
Most of the 3,420 hospitalised cases are stable or improving, while 23 are in critical condition in the intensive care unit, up from 22 on Sunday.
A total of 3,782 cases who are clinically well but still test positive for COVID-19 are isolated and cared for at community facilities.
To date, 11 cases here have died from complications due to COVID-19 infection, including a 95-year-old Singaporean man last Friday.
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 on Saturday after he tested positive for the virus the day before. His cause of death was a heart attack.
At least 35 clusters linked to foreign worker dormitories have been identified thus far. These include the largest cluster of 1,977 cases linked to S11 Dormitory@Punggol, followed by Sungei Tengah Lodge with 540 cases.
Both are among the 18 dorms that have been gazetted as isolation areas. Cases linked to the two places of residence account for over 41 per cent of the 6,075 cases living in these dorms. Some 300,000 workers live in dorms in Singapore.
Measures to combat spread of coronavirus
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 from 7 April to 4 May.
Those caught flouting the enhanced safe distancing measures 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.
Last Tuesday, authorities said that mask-wearing while going out would be mandatory and offenders will face similar penalties. Exceptions to the rule include children under the age of two, individuals who are excused from wearing masks on medical grounds, and those doing strenuous exercise.
People who flout their five-day medical leave or stay-home notices are also subjected to similar penalties.
Part of the “circuit breaker” measures – announced by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on 3 April – include the closure of schools and most workplaces. Only essential services like food establishments, markets and supermarkets, transport, and key banking services will remain open during the month-long closure.
During the first week of the circuit breaker period, the authorities issued a slew of measures, including the closure of beaches, facilities in parks and gardens and playfields.
Stadiums have also been closed, while parents are not allowed to drop off their children with grandparents on a daily basis.
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.
Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat also announced an additional $5.1 billion Solidarity Budget to help businesses, workers and households.
The government’s response to COVID-19 will total $59.9 billion, or about 12 per cent of Singapore’s gross domestic product.
Over 2.4m cases globally
To date, there are over 2.4 million COVID-19 cases globally – it took 83 days to reach the first million cases worldwide and just 14 days for the second million.
More than 167,000 have died from the virus, with the US holding the record for the highest global death toll at over 41,000.
At more than 770,000 cases, the country also holds the record of having the largest number of patients globally, followed by Spain at over 200,000 cases, Italy at over 178,000, and France with over 152,000 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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