SINGAPORE, May 15 (The Straits Times/ANN): There were 31 new coronavirus cases, including 19 in the community, as at Saturday said the Ministry of Health (MOH).
Of the community cases, two are currently unlinked.
There were also 12 imported cases who had been placed on stay-home notice on arrival in Singapore, said the ministry.
Of these, seven are returning Singaporeans or permanent residents.
The new cases take Singapore's total to 61,536.
Singapore also reported 271 imported Covid-19 cases from South Asia in the past 28 days. About half were Singaporeans and permanent residents, said the Health Ministry on Saturday (May 15).
Work pass holders, student pass holders or dependents comprised 46.5 per cent. The remaining 3.3 per cent were short-term visitors.
Overall, Singapore reported 409 of such imported cases from April 16 to May 13, of which less than 8 per cent were short-term visitors.
Responding to media queries on the number of imported cases who were short-term visitors, MOH said that only those with family ties here, or who are visiting Singapore on compassionate grounds such as to attend a funeral or seek medical treatment, are allowed into the country.
Singapore has been reporting a growing number of Covid-19 cases who have tested preliminarily positive for the B1617 variant, which originated in India.
Noting that the variant is not just a Singapore problem, MOH said that the World Health Organisation has deemed it a variant of global concern, with Europe, Australia, Japan and China all having had such infections.
"This is a major reason why transmission is rising throughout Asia - in Malaysia, Thailand, Japan. Even hitherto safe regions, such as Singapore, Taiwan and Vietnam, are experiencing outbreaks of community cases," said the ministry.
It added: "These cases all originated from imports because all borders are porous. All it takes is one case to cause an outbreak, and no country can seal itself off totally."
MOH stressed that all arrivals are subject to stringent stay-home notice and tests and that the virus could have been transmitted by anyone, not just short-term visitors.
"This is a challenge faced by all countries because no one can entirely close their borders. At the minimum, citizens and residents must be allowed to return home," said MOH. - The Straits Times/ANN