Singapore Virus Cases Climb as Clusters Form, Quarantines Widen
(Bloomberg) -- A coronavirus cluster in one of Singapore’s biggest hospitals and another stemming from an immigration officer in Changi Airport has led to more quarantines as daily community cases climbed to the highest in more than nine months.
There were 16 new cases of coronavirus in the local community on Thursday, the Ministry of Health said. This represents the highest number of new community cases since July 11, when 24 such cases were reported and Singapore was still battling to bring down infections.
While the numbers are low compared to the rest of Asia, Singapore has been discovering new clusters, including those in a foreign worker dormitory that has raised concerns of a resurgence. This latest uptick in community infections comes as Singapore readies a quarantine-free air travel-bubble with Hong Kong in May that was shelved last year.
Of the cases detected on Thursday, seven are family members of an immigration officer who contracted the virus and works at Changi Airport to screen incoming passengers. The 38-year-old man had sought medical treatment at Tan Tock Seng Hospital and his family members have been quarantined.
Authorities later widened the quarantine to include 32 immigration officials at Changi Airport who were in close contact with the affected officer. Another 100 officers who were deployed at Changi’s Terminal 1 will be tested as a precaution, according to the Immigration & Checkpoints Authority.
Another eight cases found on Thursday were linked to a 46-year-old Filipino nurse at Tan Tock Seng Hospital, who was deployed at a general ward and had gotten her second vaccination dose on Feb. 18. The spread was detected after testing patients and staff in the ward.
The public hospital has since locked down two wards and is testing more patients and staff. All close contacts of the cases including patients, visitors and staff who have been in the affected areas will be placed in quarantine, the Ministry of Health said.
The are rising concerns about people getting reinfected even after vaccination as well as new virus variants. Health Minister Gan Kim Yong said in a press briefing this month that the country is on heightened alert amid rising global cases and the growing number of local cases is worrying.
“The situation in Singapore could escalate quickly, if we let our guard down,” Gan said in the April 22 briefing. “Should there be emerging trends of increasing transmissions, we may have to tighten some measures.”
More than a thousand foreign workers went into quarantine this month after virus cases were discovered in a dormitory. Five of those workers were likely reinfected by Covid-19. On Thursday, no infections were reported in the migrant workers’ living quarters.
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