SINGAPORE - Six more cases of the coronavirus have been confirmed in Singapore, with 12 in critical condition in the intensive care unit, the Ministry of Health (MOH) said on Tuesday (March 10).
This brings the total number of cases to 166, of which 93 have fully recovered and been discharged from hospital.
Three of the cases announced on Tuesday - Cases 161, 164 and 166 - are linked to the private dinner function held at the Joy Garden restaurant at Safra Jurong on Feb 15.
The Safra Jurong cluster remains the largest locally, with 39 cases.
Two other new cases - Cases 162 and 163 - are linked to Case 142, who was confirmed to have the infection on March 7.
Case 162, a 28-year-old Singaporean man, was in Indonesia from Feb 29 to March 2.
He reported onset of symptoms on March 7 and was referred by MOH to the National Centre for Infectious Diseases (NCID) on March 9 as he was identified as a contact of Case 142.
Prior to hospitalisation, he had visited a shop at 26 Jalan Membina. He stays at Kim Tian Road.
Case 163, a 27 year-old Singaporean woman, reported onset of symptoms on March 8. She was referred to NCID by MOH on March 9 as she was identified as a contact of Case 142. She had visited Funan Mall and PUB Recreation Club before admission to hospital, and stays at Redhill Road.
The last case, Case 165, is a 30-year-old Singaporean man who was in France from Feb 15 to March 7. He was confirmed to have the Covid-19 infection on Tuesday morning and is currently warded at NCID.
MOH director of medical services Kenneth Mak said on Tuesday that contact tracing still has a role in controlling the virus outbreak for now, and it will continue to "make sense" even if there is widespread community infection.
This is because of the amplifying effect of infected individuals who continue to engage in social activities and go to work, which leads to further exposure and infection.
"Therefore, even in situations where we assume that in fact there's widespread prevalence of Covid-19 in our community, there would be interest and benefit for us still to work out ways in which we can try to contain outbreaks as they arise locally within our community, and therefore reduce the requirement for us to treat more people, to have a higher demand on resources in our healthcare systems," he said.
Prof Mak added that there may be a time where Singapore may need to think of changing its strategy, which would be when the number of cases "overwhelms its ability to bring resources in to try and contain outbreaks as they arise". But, he said, this is not a situation which needs to be considered very seriously at this time.
Health Minister Gan Kim Yong noted that there could be shifts in the emphasis on contact tracing and various measures put in place, but it is not a binary shift between contact tracing and social distancing measures.
"We have to bear in mind that it's going to be a process, it's progressive, and even if we continue to do contact tracing, the objectives may shift depending on our priorities at that point in time," he said.