Coronavirus: Strict measures aim to prevent spread in wider community

The S11 Dormitory @ Punggol is one of Singapore's largest clusters of Covid-19 cases so far. ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

Strict control measures are in place to prevent cross infection of the coronavirus between clusters in foreign worker dormitories and the wider community, the Ministry of Health (MOH) has said.

The new cases outside of the dormitory clusters are mainly occurring among close contacts who have already been identified and quarantined, said MOH director of medical services Kenneth Mak at a press conference yesterday.

"Therefore, we remain confident... that we have an effective strategy to further prevent spread occurring in the community. And of course, this will be further enhanced by the safe distancing measures that we've already put in place."

Singapore saw a record spike of 287 coronavirus cases yesterday, with the majority linked to dormitories.

Associate Professor Mak said the authorities were particularly mindful of the possibility that infection can occur if there is a lot of close contact during mixing between people. This is why they have gazetted four dormitories as isolation areas in order to strictly control access in and out of them, to prevent further circulation and spread to the community.

A close eye is also kept on the health of workers who continue to be allowed to work, especially those in essential services.

They are instructed to monitor their temperature and make sure they do not show symptoms. Those who are unwell are quickly separated from everyone else, added Prof Mak.

"Then we will investigate to make sure that they do not have any Covid-19 infection as well," he said.

National Development Minister Lawrence Wong added that there is also tight control on movements in and out of dormitories not designated isolation areas.

"For the rest of the population outside of the dorms, there will be foreign workers in our midst," he said. "They are doing all sorts of activities, (like) cleaning," he said.

Mr Wong reiterated his earlier point that foreign workers are not inherently at higher risk.

"The risk of infection for the rest of us in the population is the same, regardless of nationality, regardless of race.

"Whether local or foreigner, all of us outside of the dorms have to strictly comply with all the circuit breaker measures that we've been talking about."

He added: "If you have essential work, go for your work, but within the work setting, take all the necessary precautions, then after that come straight home and stay at home.

Any individual can become a weak link, Mr Wong said.

"One lapse can result in a cluster forming, so all of us have to do our part to stabilise the situation and keep it under control."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 10, 2020, with the headline Coronavirus: Strict measures aim to prevent spread in wider community. Subscribe