1,426 new coronavirus cases, bringing S'pore's total to 8,014

Most of the new cases are linked to worker dorms as S'pore enters second half of circuit breaker period

The majority of the Covid-19 cases here are work permit holders residing in foreign worker dormitories ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN

Singapore reported 1,426 new coronavirus cases yesterday in a new daily high, bringing its total to 8,014. The previous high was 942 new cases as reported last Saturday.

The Republic now has the most confirmed cases in South-east Asia, surpassing Indonesia and the Philippines, which each have fewer than 7,000 confirmed cases.

In line with recent trends, cases linked to foreign worker dormitories continued to make up the vast majority of new cases.

There were 1,369 new cases among foreign workers living in dorms as the authorities continued to test aggressively for the virus, particularly at large purpose-built dorms.

There were also 32 new cases among workers who are not living in dorms. Meanwhile, 33 more patients were discharged, bringing the number of those who have recovered to 801.

The total number of cases in Singapore has more than doubled each week since circuit breaker measures were introduced.

As of April 6 - the day before the measures kicked in - 1,375 cases had been announced in all. This rose to 2,918 cases by Monday last week and broke 8,000 yesterday.

This has largely been driven by the emergence of clusters linked to foreign worker dormitories, as well as aggressive testing of workers living in such dormitories by the authorities.

On April 6, there were 15 clusters linked to dorms or work sites, including the cluster at Mustafa Centre, which has links to a number of the dorm clusters.

As of last night, there were at least 56 such clusters.

Most of these cases are linked to large purpose-built dormitories, including two of the new clusters that emerged yesterday at Woodlands Lodge II and Jurong Apartments.

As of last night, 28 of the 43 such dorms have clusters.

Out of these, 18 have been declared isolation areas. Workers living there must be quarantined in their rooms for 14 days.

This includes Singapore's two largest clusters overall - the S11 Dormitory, which saw 469 new cases and now has a total of 1,977, and Sungei Tengah Lodge, which saw 20 new cases and has a total of 540.

There are also at least 14 clusters at smaller factory-converted dormitories.

The dorm at 31 Sungei Kadut Avenue also became the first factory-converted dorm to be placed under isolation, effective from today.

As Singapore enters the second half of a month-long period of circuit breaker measures designed to curb the spread of Covid-19, local transmission in the general community has continued to fall.

There were 25 such cases, including 18 Singaporeans and permanent residents and seven work pass holders, among the new cases.

No new imported cases were reported.

Infectious disease experts told The Straits Times yesterday that the coming days are a "critical period" which will determine whether the circuit breaker measures can be eased by May 4 as planned.

Professor Teo Yik Ying, dean of the NUS Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health, noted that human traffic in public spaces has been "significantly reduced" since the circuit breaker was implemented.

He added that this would drive down human-to-human interactions, and reduce the risk of the virus being passed around.

But Dr Leong Hoe Nam of Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital said he was disappointed that the number of new cases in the general community over the past few days was not lower. He hoped it would fall to five or fewer new cases a day by the end of the circuit breaker period.

Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong, who co-chairs a task force to combat the virus, said on Facebook yesterday that some find it hard to stay at home.

But Singaporeans should take heart that the circuit breaker measures are starting to show positive results, he said.

"The more we stay home and minimise movement, the more we will be able to reduce our local transmission numbers," Mr Wong said.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 21, 2020, with the headline 1,426 new coronavirus cases, bringing S'pore's total to 8,014. Subscribe