'Coming days key to easing of circuit breaker', Latest Singapore News - The New Paper

'Coming days key to easing of circuit breaker'

This article is more than 12 months old

New measures starting to show results, but 'some still find it hard to stay home'

Singapore reported 1,426 new coronavirus cases yesterday in a new daily high, bringing its total to 8,014.

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

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.

There were also 32 new cases among workers not living in dorms.

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

On April 6 - the day before the measures kicked in - there were 1,375 cases. 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 dorms.

On April 6, there were 15 clusters linked to dorms or work sites. As of last night, there were at least 55 such clusters.

Most of these cases are linked to large purpose-built dormitories. As of last night, 27 of 43 such dorms have clusters.

As Singapore enters the second half of a month-long period of circuit breaker measures to curb the spread of Covid-19, local transmission excluding foreign workers has continued to fall.

There were 25 such cases yesterday - 18 Singaporeans and permanent residents and seven work pass holders. No new imported cases were reported.

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

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

This would drive down human-to-human interactions and reduce the risk of the virus being passed around, he said.

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.

Professor Paul Tambyah from NUS' Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine said there is a need to lower the number of confirmed cases picked up by primary care clinics' surveillance of influenza-like illnesses, and those from the hospitals' surveillance of pneumonia, to as close to zero as possible.

"If that happens, we can be more confident about gradually lifting the circuit breaker," he said.

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.