COVID-19: Singapore confirms 942 new cases, record high; 14 are Singaporeans, PRs

SINGAPORE, SINGAPORE - APRIL 17: A migrant worker wearing protective face mask has his temperature checked by a security guard before leaving a factory-converted dormitory on April 17, 2020 in Singapore. The Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has spread to many countries across the world, claiming over 140,000 lives and infecting more than 2 million people. (Photo by Ore Huiying/Getty Images)
]A migrant worker wearing protective face mask has his temperature checked by a security guard before leaving a factory-converted dormitory in Singapore. (PHOTO: Ore Huiying/Getty Images)

SINGAPORE — The Ministry of Health (MOH) has confirmed an additional 942 cases of COVID-19 infection in Singapore as of 12pm on Saturday (18 April), a new single-day high. This takes the total number of cases to 5,992.

The majority of the new cases are work-permit holders residing in foreign worker dormitories, with only 14 Singaporeans or permanent residents among the cases.

  • Imported cases: 0

  • Cases in the community: 22 (14 Singaporeans/permanent residents, 6 work pass holders, 1 dependant’s pass holder, 1 long-term visit pass holder)

  • Work permit holders (residing outside dormitories): 27

  • Work permit holders (residing in dormitories): 893

Three new infection clusters have been detected: two foreign worker dormitories at Homestay Lodge with 12 cases and CDPL Tuas Dormitory with five cases, as well as TTJ Design & Engineering Pte Ltd (57 Pioneer Road) with six cases. Of the new cases, 79 per cent are linked to known clusters, while the rest are currently unlinked.

An additional 38 cases were discharged from hospitals or community isolation facilities. In all, 740 have fully recovered from the infection and been discharged.

Of the 2,563 confirmed cases who are still in hospital, most are stable or improving. Currently, 23 are in critical condition in the intensive care unit. A total of 2,678 cases who are clinically well but still test positive for the coronavirus are being 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.

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 was confirmed to have COVID-19 infection on Friday. His cause of death was heart attack.

Among the new cases is a 28 year-old male Indian national (case 5,539) employed as a housekeeper at Singapore General Hospital (SGH). The man is a local case who reported onset of symptoms on Wednesday, and tested positive for COVID-19 on Friday. He is currently warded at SGH. He had not gone to work since onset of symptoms.

(For more details on the breakdown of the clusters, read here.)

(For more on the 942 new cases, read here.)

Foreign workers in and outside dorms

MOH stressed that most of the 893 cases who are work permit holders residing in dormitories are young, have a mild illness and are being monitored in community isolation facilities or hospital general wards. None are in intensive care unit.

Meanwhile, the number of new cases among migrant workers residing outside dormitories has increased, from an average of 11 cases per day in the week before, to an average of 21 per day in the past week.

Fewer cases on average in the community

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 31 per day in the past week. 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.

MOH noted that while contact tracing and epidemiology teams are working to identify the source of infection for the unlinked cases, this will become increasingly difficult as time passes.

“Our surveillance programme is also ongoing, where a small sample of patients at our primary care facilities are tested for COVID-19 infection. The cases picked up through this surveillance is an indication of the presence of undetected cases in the community,” said the ministry.

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.

Last 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 2.27m cases globally

To date, there are over 2.27 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 156,000 have died from the virus, with the US holding the record for the highest global death toll at over 37,000.

At more than 710,000 cases, the country also holds the record of having the largest number of patients globally, followed by Spain at over 191,000 cases, Italy at over 172,000, and France with almost 148,000 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 on Friday.

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