Singapore—The country’s first case of the novel coronavirus was reported by the Ministry of Health (MOH) as early as late January. By February 1, there were 18 confirmed cases of what was then still referred to as the Wuhan coronavirus, which involved travel to China.
On February 4, the first local transmission of the coronavirus was confirmed by the MOH, and three days later, the alert level in Singapore was raised to DORSCON Orange, which put into effect control measures such as quarantines and temperature screenings which had a moderate disruption on everyday life.
While the number of confirmed coronavirus grew throughout February, this was a slow growth that did not overwhelm the country’s health systems. Most people recovered from Covid-19, as it came to be called. In late February, Health Minister Gan Kim Yong even said in a press conference that the DORSCON alert level could be lowered. February ended with only 101 confirmed cases of Covid-19.
Singapore, along with Taiwan and Hong Kong, received praise worldwide for the measures it had taken to control the spread of the coronavirus.
In March, however, the second wave of cases occurred. As the number of infections grew worldwide, especially in Europe, the new epicenter of the outbreak, more and more expatriates came home to Singapore, including students from the United States and the United Kingdom.
The number of cases shot up from 101 to 1,000 in just one month. Along with “imported cases” from returnees to Singapore were also new cases that had been locally transmitted, as well as those that were not connected to other cases. At the end of February, there were six coronavirus clusters in Singapore, but by the beginning of April, the number had increased to 20, including a nursing home and a shipyard.
On Wednesday (Apr 8), the number of infections had jumped by 60 percent in just one week, with 142 new cases on that day itself, which was a new 24-hour high.
Gan Kim Yong said, “The trend is particularly concerning in the past week,” since more and more cases have emerged with no connections to past cases.
According to the Financial Times, local transmissions have increased fourfold in the last two weeks, hence, the third wave of Covid-19 infections, which has included new clusters in the living quarters of the country’s migrant workers.
The emergence of new clusters has shone light on the poor and overcrowded living conditions in the dormitories of the foreign workers, which has, naturally, given rise to fears of an even wider spread of Covid-19.
On Sunday (Apr 5), nearly 20,000 such workers were put under quarantine in two dormitories, and a third dormitory was later also put under quarantine.
In the MOH’s updates of new Covid-19 cases since Monday, around one-third are foreign workers.
It was reported on Thursday (Apr 9) that some foreign workers working in essential services have been moved to previously unoccupied HDB blocks to ensure that they stay healthy and continue to keep on working. —/TISG
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