Coronavirus cases cross 3000-mark in Singapore, foreign workers worst-affected

Coronavirus cases in Singapore crossed the 13,000-mark on Sunday after 931 positive cases were confirmed with majority of them continued to be foreign workers, including Indian nationals, living in dormitories.

The vast majority of the news cases are work permit holders residing in dormitories for foreign workers, the Ministry of Health (MOH) said in its preliminary release of figures.

Foreign workers’ dormitories have been locked down as the government struggles to curb the second wave of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Fifteen of the new cases confirmed on Sunday are Singaporeans or permanent residents being foreigners. The total number of coronavirus cases is 13,624 as of Sunday noon.

“We are still working through the details of the cases, and further updates will be shared via the MOH press release that will be issued tonight,” the ministry said.

Meanwhile, five weeks from now, if the number of daily COVID-19 cases in the community falls to single digits and the situation in the foreign worker dormitories improves, circuit breaker measures in Singapore may ease gradually, reported Channel News Asia, citing experts.

Key indicators of whether Singapore is in a position to consider such a move include the number of new community cases falling to single digits per day and a very clear decline in new cases in the dormitories, said Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health dean Teo Yik Ying.

Besides a fall in the total number of cases, the number of unlinked cases should go down to near zero, added Professor Paul Tambyah of the Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine at the National University of Singapore.

Another indicator of community transmission of the coronavirus would be the numbers from the Health Ministry’s surveillance programmes. Such random testing of flu-like illnesses in the community aims to pick up cases that otherwise would not have not been detected.

The key is to look at the sentinel surveillance data from the influenza-like illness surveillance done in polyclinics and general practitioner clinics to see how much coronavirus is circulating in the community, as well as pneumonia surveillance in hospitals, said Prof Tambyah.

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Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing said on Thursday the sentinel programme is an example of how authorities are trying to “pre-empt the situation going forward”.

“For example at this point in time, while the numbers are coming down, we are also making sure that we have background sentinel checks to make sure that we are not caught blindsided by some other hidden cases in the community,” he said in an interview with Bloomberg.

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