SINGAPORE — The Ministry of Health (MOH) has on Friday (17 April) confirmed 623 new COVID-19 cases and four more clusters in Singapore, taking its total to 5,050.
The announcement comes a day after Singapore reported a single-day high of 728 cases.
The four clusters are Tuas South Dormitory at 1 Tuas South Street 12, Avery Lodge Dormitory at 2D Jalan Papan, Jurong Penjuru Dormitory at 58 Penjuru Place and 4 Sungei Kadut Street 2.
Of the 623 new cases, 558 are foreign workers living in dormitories. Another 27 are linked to local cases in the community and 37 are work permit holders residing outside dorms.
The remaining case, a 34-year-old nurse at Bright Vision Hospital, is imported. The Malaysian woman, who had been in her home country from 29 January to 8 April, reported developing symptoms on Thursday.
She tested positive for the virus on Friday and is currently warded at the National Centre for Infectious Diseases. The nurse had not gone to work since developing symptoms as she had been serving a stay-home notice.
Of all new cases on Friday, 31 per cent have no established links.
The ministry also noted that the number of new cases in the community has decreased, from an average of 40 cases per day in the week before, to an average of 32 per day in the past week.
“The circuit breaker measures appear to have helped, but we still have to monitor carefully the numbers over the next few days,” it added.
“We are particularly concerned that it is increasingly difficult to link the new cases and identify the source of infection. In fact, the number of unlinked cases in the community has increased slightly, from an average of 19 cases per day in the week before, to an average of 22 per day in the past week.”
Some cases have been picked up via an ongoing surveillance programme, where a small sample of patients at primary care facilities are tested for COVID-19 infections, said the MOH, adding that this is “an indication of undetected cases in the community”.
The ministry also clarified that of the 48 cases initially declared as ones found in the community as part of Thursday’s count, 22 were eventually found to be living in dormitories. This means that there were only 26 cases in the community, it added.
(For more details on the breakdown of the clusters, read here.)
(For more on the 623 cases, read here.)
25 more patients discharged; 22 in ICU
Separately, the MOH said that 25 more patients have been discharged from hospital or community facilities, bringing the total to 708 who have fully recovered and have been discharged.
Most of the 2,113 hospitalised cases are stable or improving, while 22 are in critical condition in the intensive care unit, down from 23 on Thursday.
A total of 2,218 cases who are clinically well but still test positive for COVID-19 are isolated and cared for at community facilities.
A total of 11 cases here have died from complications due to COVID-19 infection, including a 95-year-old Singaporean man on Friday.
Another two patients, who tested positive for the virus, have died from causes unrelated to COVID-19.
At least 29 clusters linked to foreign worker dormitories have been identified thus far, including the largest cluster of 1,123 cases linked to S11 Dormitory@Punggol.
The S11 Dormitory@Punggol is one of 13 dorms that have been gazetted as isolation areas.
Those linked to it account for almost 40 per cent of the over 2,800 cases linked to such dorms and construction sites.
As of Thursday noon, 15,202 are currently quarantined, and 19,718 have completed their quarantine.
In the MOH’s latest daily situation report, 6,700 of 65,800 issued stay-home notices remain active.
As of Tuesday, 94,796 swabs have been tested. Of these, 59,737 belonged to unique individuals.
Measures to combat spread of coronavirus
The COVID-19 Temporary Measures Act, passed in Parliament last Tuesday, 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.
On 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 2, 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.
In a Good Friday address last week, Lee reiterated his call for Singaporeans to stay home, as COVID-19 cases continue to rise in foreign worker dormitories as well as in the general population.
Over the weekend, 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.
Last Monday, Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat 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 2.2m cases globally
To date, there are over 2.2 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 150,000 have died from the virus, with the US holding the record for the highest global death toll at over 35,000.
At over 680,000 cases, the country also holds the record of having the largest number of patients globally, followed by Spain at over 188,000 cases, Italy at over 172,000, and France at over 165,000.
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 on Friday.
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