Coronavirus: Record 73 new cases; fresh cluster of 18 cases at Fengshan pre-school

PCF centre's principal, 4 family members, 13 teaching and non-teaching staff test positive

The ministry said there are now 18 cases linked to a new cluster at the PCF Sparkletots pre-school at Fengshan Block 126.
The ministry said there are now 18 cases linked to a new cluster at the PCF Sparkletots pre-school at Fengshan Block 126.ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

Singapore yesterday confirmed a new daily high of 73 coronavirus cases, while a new cluster of 18 cases has emerged at the PAP Community Foundation (PCF) Sparkletots centre at Fengshan Block 126.

The new cases bring the total number here to 631, the Ministry of Health (MOH) said.

Of the 18 cases in the PCF Sparkletots cluster, 14 are teaching and non-teaching staff at the pre-school, while four are family members of the centre's principal - a 47-year-old Singaporean woman.

The second new cluster comprises three staff members at Dover Court International School.

A spokesman for the Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA) said 13 staff from the pre-school in Bedok North had tested positive yesterday, following the Nursery 2 teacher who was found to have the coronavirus on Monday.

One of them is the centre's principal, who was well when she was at work on March 17, but developed symptoms in the afternoon, the spokesman said. On that day, she had a meeting with her staff and later attended a course with other pre-school staff in the evening.

The principal saw a doctor the next morning and was on medical leave until last Friday. Most of the other staff who tested positive began developing symptoms from last Friday and at the weekend.

Four of the principal's family members who do not live with her were found to have Covid-19 on Monday and Tuesday.

ECDA has closed the centre from Tuesday to April 7, and placed all children and staff present at the centre from March 16 to Tuesday on quarantine.

In a letter to parents, PCF chief executive Victor Bay apologised after preliminary investigations found there were staff who were at work despite feeling unwell.

"It is regrettable that measures put in place to safeguard the wellbeing of children and staff were not strictly followed in that centre," he said. "We will do a comprehensive review of what happened in this case and take appropriate action."

Of the 73 new Covid-19 cases, 38 were imported, said MOH. All except one of the imported cases were returning residents and long-term pass holders who had travelled to Europe, North America, Asean and other parts of Asia.

Of the 35 new local cases, 27 were linked to clusters or previous cases, while contact tracing is ongoing for eight cases that were not linked to travel or previous cases.

There were two three-year-olds among the new cases. One is a Singaporean girl, an imported case from the United States. The other is an Indian girl who is a long-term pass holder and linked to an earlier case.

Five more cases were discharged from hospital yesterday. To date, 160 patients have fully recovered from the infection and been discharged.

Among the 404 patients still in hospital, 17 are in critical condition in the intensive care unit.

"Sixty-five cases who are clinically well, but still test positive for Covid-19, have been transferred to Concord International Hospital, Mount Elizabeth Hospital and the Community Isolation Facility at D'Resort NTUC for isolation and care," MOH said.

As of noon yesterday, MOH had identified 8,930 close contacts who have been quarantined. Of these, 2,643 are currently quarantined, while 6,287 have completed their quarantine.

In a Facebook post, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said Singapore expects to see more cases as more overseas Singaporeans return home.

Noting that some people are not abiding by stay-home notices issued to them, he said: "Please comply - it is irresponsible to gallivant off to eat local food you miss, or to go partying with friends, when you are supposed to stay at home and isolate yourself. You will also be breaking the law."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 26, 2020, with the headline 'Record 73 new cases; fresh cluster of 18 cases at Fengshan pre-school'. Subscribe