Singapore Minister Says Must Be Ready to Act as Virus Spikes

Singapore should continue to expect many coronavirus infections to be reported in the coming days and must be prepared to make adjustments or even take decisive actions to suppress the cases, Health Minister Ong Ye Kung said in a Facebook post on Monday.

His comments come as the country reported 163 new cases of infections in the community on Monday, a significant jump from last week when a cluster linked to karaoke lounges first emerged and another tied to a wholesale fishery port came to light over the weekend. Of the new local cases, 106 are linked to the fishery port and 19 to the karaoke lounge clusters, while 26 cases are currently unlinked, according to the health ministry.

The outbreaks in karaoke lounges and at the fishery port are linked, Ong said in his post. They differ genetically from the Delta variant earlier identified in previous outbreaks, with the current clusters closer to what has been detected in imported cases from Indonesia, he added.

“One thing is clear – when countries in the region have big outbreaks, we are always at risk,” Ong said.

The identified cases linked to the karaoke lounge cluster are settling down following extensive testing whereas the outbreak linked to the fishery port is “rising worryingly, because it is seeding cases in various markets, and the communities around them,” Ong said.

Vaccination Milestone

The jump in cases is dealing a blow to the city-state’s efforts to reopen, with the government re-enforcing stricter measures for dining-in just days after relaxing them. Authorities have temporarily closed hundreds of nightlife venues to curb the spread of the virus and quarantined thousands of people.

As vaccinations gather pace, half of the country’s 5.7 million population is expected to be fully inoculated by Tuesday, according to Ong’s post.

Singapore has been vaccinating up to 80,000 people a day, and those taking their second dose now account for about 70% of all doses. Unvaccinated individuals, especially the elderly, are advised to remain at home as much as possible as authorities work to curb the spread of the virus, Ong said.

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