Singapore has reported 675 new COVID-19 cases, mostly foreign workers living in dormitories, taking the number of infections in the country to 25,346, the Health Ministry said on Wednesday.
Out of the new infections, only two coronavirus cases are Singapore citizens or permanent resident (foreigner), the ministry said.
The latest count takes the national tally to 25,346 cases since the first infection was detected here early in January 2020.
All 323,000 foreign workers staying in dormitories will be tested for COVID-19 to ensure they are free from the virus before they resume work in the community and return to their dorms, said National Development Minister Lawrence Wong.
This will be done through the use of mass polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests and mass serological tests, said Wong, as he outlined the government’s “systematic” approach to ensure that dormitories are clear of the coronavirus.
First, serology tests, which can detect if an individual has had COVID-19 in the past, will be applied to dorms with high infection rates, the minister was quoted as saying in The Straits Times.
At a COVID-19 multi-ministry task force press conference on Tuesday, Health Minister Gan Kim Yong said that while the number of community cases has fallen, Singapore must “remain vigilant” as circuit breaker restrictions are gradually lifted.
Gan added that the authorities have also drawn up plans to allow migrant workers living in dormitories to return to work safely when some economic activities restart.
A total of 20,000 migrant workers who have COVID-19 are expected to be discharged by the end of the month.
The Ministry of Health (MOH) said that workers with a positive serological test would have been infected in the past – at least 10 to 14 days ago – and would no longer be infectious after a period of isolation.
“After a period of isolation, we can assume they’ve recovered from the virus,” the report quoted Wong as saying. Wong co-chairs the multi-ministry task force tackling the pandemic.