COVID-19: Singapore confirms 611 new cases and new single-day high of 1,337 recoveries

A security officer in personal protection equipment stands guard outside the SuperStar Gemini cruise ship, which is being used as a temporary accommodation facility for migrant workers who had recovered from COVID-19 here, on 23 May, 2020. (PHOTO: Reuters)

SINGAPORE — The Ministry of Health (MOH) confirmed on Friday (29 May) 611 new COVID-19 cases in Singapore, bringing the total to 33,860, as well as a new single-day high of 1,337 more recoveries.

Of them, the 602 are foreign workers living in dormitories, said the ministry. The remaining nine include two Singaporeans, one permanent resident as well as two work pass and four work permit holders residing outside dorms.

Among the three Singapore residents are two who are linked to dorm clusters and had already been placed on quarantine earlier. One of them is a 53-year-old male PR linked to SCM Tuas Lodge, now a cluster of 396 cases.

The other is a 44-year-old Singaporean woman linked to 1020 Tai Seng Avenue – now a cluster of 159 cases – via a household contact identified as case 28077. The latter is a Singaporean man, 50, who went to work at the dorm.

The remaining resident, a 25-year-old physiotherapist at the Changi General Hospital (CGH), is currently classified as a local unlinked case. The Singaporean woman, identified as case 33864, had no recent travel history to affected countries or regions.

She tested positive on Thursday and is currently warded at CGH. The physiotherapist had not gone to work since developing symptoms.

Amongst the six foreign workers – all of whom displayed no symptoms – five were picked up as a result of the ministry’s proactive screening and surveillance, said the MOH.

“Three were tested as part of a screening of migrant workers residing at shophouses located at Balestier Road, due to their proximity to another cluster in the same area,” it added. The trio are all male Indian nationals, aged 46, 29 and 25, respectively.

As a precautionary measure to prepare for the safe re-opening of schools, the remaining two – a 35-year-old male Indian national and a 31-year-old Bangladeshi man – were tested before they were due to start work on plumbing/electrical projects at schools. Both were classified as local unlinked cases.

The sixth case, a 36-year-old male Indian national, is a contact of two earlier cases and had already been placed on quarantine earlier, the ministry said. The man is one of a cluster of seven cases linked to 564 A-E Balestier Road.

Overall, only one per cent of the new cases have no established links.

The MOH said that the number of new cases in the community has decreased, from an average of six cases per day in the week before, to an average of five per day in the past week.

Meanwhile, it noted that the number of unlinked cases in the community has remained stable at an average of two per day in the past two weeks.

One out of 13 positive preschool staff likely ‘current’ infection

The ministry also said that one more serological test – belonging to one of 13 preschool staff members who tested positive for a COVID-19 swab test – has come back positive on Friday, which is indicative of past infections.

“We have assessed that the individual was unlikely to be infectious by the time of the recent screening,” added the MOH.

On the other hand, the serological test for the latest preschool staff member, who was reported to have the infection on Thursday, has come back negative, which is indicative of a recent infection.

The staff member, case 33092, was identified as a 49-year-old female Chinese national who had been asymptomatic and was classified as an unlinked case in the community on Thursday.

While the MOH did not identify the preschool she is working at, it said on Friday that she is a non-teaching staff and that her close contacts have been placed under quarantine.

“In all, more than 39,000 preschool staff have been tested so far, and only one case is likely to be a current infection,” the ministry said.

FairPrice at Taman Jurong Shopping Centre added to list

The ministry also added one more public place to a list of locations, published from Monday, visited by cases in the community for over 30 minutes The additional location is the NTUC FairPrice outlet at Taman Jurong Shopping Centre, which was visited on 20 May from 7 to 8pm and 22 May from 830pm to 9pm.

This list – which excludes residences, workplaces, healthcare facilities, and public transport – will be updated on a rolling 14-days basis or one incubation period, the ministry said.

As a precautionary measure, the MOH advised those who had been at these locations during the specified timings to monitor their health closely for 14 days from their date of visit.

They have also been urged by the ministry to visit the doctor if they develop symptoms such as cough, sore throat, as well as fever and loss of taste or smell, and inform the doctor of their exposure history.

Two more clusters identified, two others closed

The MOH also identified two more clusters linked to dorms at 35 Kaki Bukit Place and 40 Kaki Bukit Industrial Terrace.

Separately, it added that clusters at the Keppel Shipyard at 51 Pioneer Sector 1 and 2 Tuas Avenue 1 are now considered closed as they have not been linked to any cases for the past two incubation periods or 28 days.

Dozens of clusters linked to foreign worker dorms have been identified thus far, including Singapore’s largest cluster of 2,685 cases linked to S11 Dormitory@Punggol, followed by Sungei Tengah Lodge with 1,969 cases, Tuas View Dormitory with 1,342 cases and Jurong Penjuru Dormitory with 1,231 cases.

The four are among the 25 dorms that have been gazetted as isolation areas and account for close to 23 per cent of the total 31,603 infected foreign workers living in dorms.

Some 400,000 workers live in dorms here in Singapore.

National Development Minister and co-chair of the COVID-19 multi-ministry taskforce Lawrence Wong had at a 12 May press conference said that some 20,000 infected foreign workers are expected to be discharged by the end of this month.

(For more details on the clusters, read here.)

Over 19,600 discharged in total

With a new single-day high of 1,337 more COVID-19 patients discharged from hospitals or community isolation facilities, a total of 19,631 cases – more than half of the total infections here – here have fully recovered from the infection, said the MOH on Friday.

Most of the 461 hospitalised cases are stable or improving, while eight are in critical condition in the intensive care unit, up from seven on Thursday.

A total of 13,745 patients with mild symptoms or are clinically well but still test positive are isolated and cared for at community facilities.

Apart from 23 patients who have died from COVID-19 complicationsnine others who tested positive for the virus have died from unrelated causes, including three whose deaths were attributed to a heart attack and two whose deaths were attributed to coronary heart disease.

“Only cases where the attending doctor or pathologist attributes the primary or underlying cause of death as due to COVID-19 infection will be added to the COVID-19 death count,” said the MOH in previous press releases, adding that the method of assessment is consistent with international practices for classifying deaths.

It had also noted that 86 male foreign workers aged 25 to 59 died due to heart disease in Singapore in 2018.

As of 25 May, the ministry has conducted 334,691 swab tests, of which 218,996 were done on unique individuals. This translates to around 58,700 swabs conducted per 1 million total population, and about 38,400 unique individuals swabbed per 1 million total population.

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