SINGAPORE — The Ministry of Health (MOH) on Monday (30 March) announced 35 new COVID-19 cases – including a porter at the National Centre for Infectious Diseases (NCID) – and three new clusters in Singapore, taking the country’s total to 879.
The three new clusters are S11 Dormitory @ Punggol at 2 Seletar North Link, Wilby Residences at 25 Wilby Road and live music bar Hero’s at 69 Circular Road.
The ages for the 35 new cases ranged from 19 to 88 years old. Of these, nine are imported and 26 are local transmissions with no recent travel history abroad.
The nine imported cases had travel history to Europe, North America, South America, Middle East, and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) region.
Of the locally transmitted cases, 14 are currently unlinked, while 12 are linked to previous cases or clusters.
Among the new unlinked cases is no. 853, a 20-year-old Malaysian man who holds a Singapore work pass and had been in Malaysia from 16 to 17 March. He is employed as a porter at the NCID and had not gone to work after developing symptoms.
He reported developing symptoms on 28 March, and tested positive for the virus the next afternoon. He is currently warded in the NCID. Yahoo News Singapore has reached out to the NCID for comments on the case.
Of the 12 linked to previous cases or clusters, two are linked to the new cluster at S11 Dormitory @ Punggol while three are linked to the new cluster at Wilby Residences.
In total, four confirmed cases are linked to the S11 Dormitory @ Punggol cluster, while seven – including no. 439 – are linked to the Wilby Residences cluster.
Five – including no. 192 – are linked to the new cluster at Hero’s. A case – no. 556 – linked to the bar is also one of eight linked to Dover Court International School.
A statement was posted on the Facebook page of Hero’s early Tuesday indicating that it had contacted the MOH immediately after hearing the news of the cluster.
The ministry told Hero’s that it would contact the bar “if there was a reason to worry” and would have done so “straight away” if the cases had stayed at the premises for a long time, the statement added.
“As of tonight, none of our team have reported ill or tested positive for COVID-19. Nor have we heard of any patrons reporting positive until tonight's news.”
The bar has been closed since last Thursday night and will continue to be until 30 April, as part of stricter measures by the government across the entertainment industry and elsewhere to curb community spread of the virus.
16 more discharged, 19 in ICU
Separately, 16 more cases have been discharged from hospitals or community isolation facilities, bringing the total number of recovered and discharged patients to 228.
Most of the remaining 420 hospitalised cases are stable or improving, while 19 are in critical condition in the intensive care unit.
Three have died from complications due to COVID-19 infection, with the latest fatality – a 70-year-old Singaporean man – succumbing to it on Sunday at 12.12pm.
228 cases who are clinically well but still test positive for the virus are isolated and cared for at Concord International Hospital, Mount Elizabeth Hospital, Gleneagles Hospital and the Community Isolation Facility at D’Resort NTUC.
The MOH also said that contact tracing is underway for 79 local transmissions with no links to previous cases or travel history to affected countries or regions.
According to the ministry, a total of 514 cases here are imported. The city-state’s single-day high of 73 cases was reported last Wednesday.
More than 4,700 quarantined
As of Monday noon, the MOH has identified 12,984 close contacts who have been quarantined. Of these, 4,737 are currently quarantined, and 8,247 have completed their quarantine.
Last 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.
Stricter measures to cap social gatherings
Stricter measures were announced last 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 last 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 updates to the Infectious Diseases Act.
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 such penalties.
Both those on five-day MC or stay-home notice must wear a mask if they have to leave their place of accommodation to seek emergency medical treatment.
The same 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.
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 in Parliament last 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 close to 736,000 COVID-19 cases globally. Almost 35,000 have died from the virus, with the death tolls in Spain and Italy accounting for over half of the figure.
At over 142,000 cases, the US has risen to record the largest number of patients globally, followed by Italy at over 97,000 cases, Spain at over 85,000 and China at over 81,000.
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