Singapore reports 596 new cases, majority from dorms

SINGAPORE (CNA) – Singapore reported 596 new cases of COVID-19 yesterday, bringing the total number of infections in the country to 6,588.

Twenty-five were Singapore citizens or permanent residents, while the vast majority were work permit holders residing in foreign worker dormitories, the Singaporean Ministry of Health said in a press release announcing the preliminary numbers.

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

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

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

Residents queue for their food at Tuas South foreign workers dormitory that has been placed under government restriction as preventive measure against the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus in Singapore. PHOTO: AFP

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

Singapore’s 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 the number of foreign workers infected with the coronavirus has mostly been concentrated in dormitories, there have been cases at construction worksites.

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

“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 the ministry are up to date.

Yesterday was the seventh day 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.

Singapore 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.”