Singapore: 327 new Covid-19 cases; all foreign workers to be tested before Aug

Image courtesy of The Straits Times/Asian News Network.

SINGAPORE, July 17 (The Straits Times/ANN): There were 327 new coronavirus cases confirmed as of Friday noon (July 17), taking Singapore's total to 47,453.

They include nine community cases, comprising six Singaporeans or permanent residents and three work pass holders, said the Ministry of Health (MOH) on Friday.

Epidemiological investigations are being done for the other cases.

There were also three imported cases who had been placed on stay-home notice upon arrival in Singapore.

Migrant workers living in dormitories make up the vast majority of the other cases.

On Thursday, MOH announced that Resorts World Sentosa's casino was among the new places visited by Covid-19 patients while they were still infectious.

Three visits were recorded at the casino, on July 4, 5 and 6, but MOH did not say whether different patients made the visits separately or at least one patient visited the location thrice.

The Traffic Police headquarters in Ubi, Master Prata in Sembawang Shopping Centre and a Giant Express outlet in Bukit Batok East were also among the places newly added to a list of locations visited by infectious patients.

The ministry provides a list of locations and times that infectious Covid-19 patients have visited for at least 30 minutes to get those who were at these places during those specific periods to monitor their health closely for two weeks from the date of their visit.

The full list of locations and times can be found on MOH's website. The ministry has said that close contacts would already have been notified and there is no need to avoid these places as they would have been cleaned if needed.

Singapore has had 27 deaths from Covid-19 complications, while 14 who tested positive have died of other causes.

It was also announced by the government that Singapore is entering its final phase of testing and clearing all foreign workers staying in dormitories of the coronavirus, which could be done possibly before mid-August, according to Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong on Friday (July 17).

As of Thursday, around 232,000 workers have either recovered or have been tested to be free of the virus. There are about 323,000 workers living in dorms in Singapore.

As the authorities clear the final group of workers, many of whom come from dorms with higher prevalence of coronavirus cases, there has been some increase in Covid-19 cases from this group in recent days, said Mr Wong, who is co-chair of a multi-ministry task force handling the outbreak.

This trend is expected to continue in the coming days, he added during a virtual press conference.

About 94 per cent of Singapore's confirmed coronavirus cases are dorm residents.

Since the start of this month, the daily average number of dormitory residents who have been tested positive for Covid-19 was 192. Since Monday, the average daily number has increased to 284.

Responding to a question on the strategy of clearing dorms, Wong cautioned that there might still be positive cases among this group of workers, even after all of them have been cleared.

"Looking at the 300,000 people in the dorms, after we have cleared all of them, so to speak, we will still commit to do periodic, routine testing of all of these workers once every fortnight.

"And I would not be surprised at all that we will still pick up positive cases, and many of them may well be older infections, but it may very well happen - just as we are seeing this for workers in the community. I think the same situation will arise later on for workers in the dorms."

Even after serving an isolation period, this is not foolproof, and that is why an exit test needs to be done, he added.

In a statement on Friday, the Ministry of Health (MOH) said that there are some recovered workers who cannot yet return to work even if they are ready, as some residents in their dorms or blocks are still serving their isolation.

"In consultation with the Ministry of Health, the Inter-Agency Task Force has put in place additional decontamination measures to allow these recovered workers to leave the dormitories to resume work safely, without compromising public health.

"This will be implemented progressively over the next week," added MOH. - The Straits Times/Asian News Network
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