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COVID-19 Update: Singapore reports 596 new cases, majority from dormitories

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This article has been updated on 20th April 2020.

Singapore reported 596 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday (Apr 19), bringing the total number of infections in the country to 6,588. 

Of the new cases, 68 per cent are linked to known clusters, while the rest are pending contact tracing, the Ministry of Health (MOH) said in its evening update.

The vast majority were work permit holders residing in foreign worker dormitories, it had said in an earlier press release announcing the preliminary numbers.

“The main increase today continues to be for work permit holders residing in dormitories, in line with our continued efforts to actively test and isolate the infected workers. 

“Most of these cases are young, have a mild illness and are being monitored in the community isolation facilities or general ward of our hospitals. None of them is in the intensive care unit,” said MOH.

covid 19 update singapore reports 596 new cases majority from dormitories 1
Dormitories are crowded in Singapore.

A total of 544 cases from Sunday were linked to work permit holders residing in dormitories.

There were five new clusters identified as well at Woodlands Lodge I, Changi Lodge II, 51 Paya Ubi Industrial Park, 17 Jalan Besut and Sembawang Shipyard.

Cases within the community

There were 30 cases within the community, the ministry added. Twenty-five were Singapore citizens or Permanent Residents, while five were work pass holders.

Among the community cases, five were children aged between one and 12 years.

The number of unlinked cases in the community “has increased slightly”, said MOH.

“The number of new cases in the community has decreased, from an average of 37 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 18 cases per day in the week before, to an average of 22 per day in the past week. 

“We will continue to closely monitor these numbers, as well as the cases detected through our surveillance programme,” added MOH.

The number of new cases among work permit holders residing outside dormitories also increased, from an average of 11 cases per day in the week before, to an average of 21 per day in the past week.

Cases Among Healthcare Workers

Case 4556, a nurse from Khoo Teck Puat Hospital was confirmed to have the infection on Friday.

The 32-year-old had no recent travel history to affected countries or regions. She reported symptoms on Apr 13. She is currently warded at Khoo Teck Puat Hospital.

The full list of cases is provided on the ministry’s website.

More Patients Discharged

In total, 26 more patients have been discharged from hospitals or community isolation facilities. In all, 768 have fully recovered from the infection, MOH said.

Of the 2,921 confirmed cases who are still in hospital, most are stable or improving, and 22 are in critical condition in the intensive care unit. 

There are 2,888 cases who are clinically well but still test positive for COVID-19 are isolated and cared for at community facilities. 

Singapore has seen 11 deaths linked to COVID-19.

In a clarification regarding Saturday’s release, MOH said on its website that the COVID-19 daily update had included cases that were confirmed and verified after 12pm.

These cases had been included in the clusters case listing, the ministry said in a notice on its website.

“We have amended the listing to exclude them from the Annex of the 18 April press release,” the ministry added.

Citing significant public interest, MOH has begun releasing the daily numbers earlier in the day, while sharing details on the cases at night.

Construction sector workers placed on Stay-Home Notice

The Ministry of Manpower announced on Saturday that all work permit holders and S Pass holders in the construction sector would be placed on mandatory stay-home notices. 

While the recent rise in number of foreign workers infected with the coronavirus has mostly been concentrated in dormitories, there have been cases at construction worksites, MOM and the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) noted.

“Contact tracing suggests that transmissions at common construction worksites may have contributed to the increase in numbers,” said MOM and BCA. 

“Thus far, the cases detected among workers living outside the dormitories have been low. All those infected and their close contacts have been isolated.”

Employers whose workers are affected by the latest stay-home notice are required to make arrangements for them such as providing food, and ensuring that their addresses and mobile phone numbers registered with MOM are up to date.

Sunday is day 13 of Singapore’s month-long “circuit breaker” – a period with enhanced safe distancing measures in a bid to stem the spread of COVID-19. Most workplaces are closed and schools have transitioned to full home-based learning.

The Prime Minister said there are “a few early signs” that the circuit breaker is bringing down local cases in the broader community.

“But we are still worried about hidden cases circulating in our population, which are keeping the outbreak going,” he added.

“The next few days will be critical. All of us must do our part, in order to defeat COVID-19.”

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