COVID-19: Singapore confirms 52 new cases including 28 imported, total at 683

A 32-year-old Singaporean woman who worked as an associate consultant at the National Skin Centre was among the 52 new cases confirmed on 26 March, 2020. (SCREENCAP: Google Maps)

SINGAPORE — The Ministry of Health (MOH) on Thursday (26 March) announced 52 new COVID-19 cases in Singapore, taking the country’s total to 683.

This follows a single-day high of 73 cases on Wednesday.

Of the 52 new cases, 28 are imported and 24 are local transmissions. Their ages ranged from 18 to 71.

The 28 imported cases had travel history to Europe, North America, Middle East, South-East Asia and other parts of Asia. All except two were returning Singapore residents and long-term pass holders.

10 of the new local transmissions are linked to clusters or previous cases – two of which are linked to the cluster at the Fengshan PAP Community Foundation (PCF) Sparkletots preschool, while one is linked to the cluster at the Dover Court International School. Both clusters were formally identified by the ministry on Wednesday.

In all, 20 of 683 cases have been linked to the Fengshan centre at 126 Bedok North Street 2. 15 of them are staff members at the preschool, and five cases are family members of case 601, a 47-year-old Singaporean woman identified by the authorities on Wednesday as the centre’s principal.

A total of four cases have been linked to the Dover Court International School at 301 Dover Road. All four are staff members at the school.

Contact tracing is ongoing for the 14 remaining local transmissions with no established links, said the MOH. One such locally-transmitted case is an associate consultant at the National Skin Centre.

Case 666: Associate consultant at National Skin Centre

The 32-year-old Singaporean woman had no travel history to affected countries or regions and reported developing symptoms on Tuesday.

The associate consultant tested positive for the virus on Thursday morning and is currently warded in an isolation room at the Singapore General Hospital.

She was last at work at the National Skin Centre, at 1 Mandalay Road, on Wednesday, said a statement by the centre. Contact tracing revealed that she had close contact with three other doctors and they have been placed on a 14-day leave of absence, it added.

(SOURCE: MOH)

12 discharged, 18 in ICU

Separately, the MOH said that 12 more patients have been discharged from hospital, bringing the total to 172 fully recovered and discharged.

Most of the remaining 422 hospitalised cases are stable or improving, while 18 are in critical condition in the intensive care unit, up from 17 on Wednesday.

The ministry said that 87 cases who are clinically well but still test positive for the virus have been transferred to Concord International Hospital, Mount Elizabeth Hospital and the community isolation facility at D’Resort NTUC.

Singapore’s first two deaths from COVID-19 – a 75-year-old Singaporean woman and a 64-year-old Indonesian man – were announced last Saturday.

The MOH also said that contact tracing is underway for 42 local transmissions – out of over 290 locally-transmitted cases – with no links to previous cases or travel history to affected countries or regions.

According to the MOH, a total of 392 cases here are imported, of which only 45 are visitors.

3k currently quarantined; 38k serving stay-home notices

As of Thursday noon, the MOH has identified 9,771 close contacts who have been quarantined. Of these, 3,216 are currently quarantined, and 6,555 have completed their quarantine.

On Wednesday, National Development Minister Lawrence Wong said in Parliament that 38,000 people in Singapore are currently serving the mandatory 14-day stay-home notices, with the figure expected to rise with more returning here.

Cases will similarly continue to rise, as some of around 200,000 overseas Singaporeans return home, said Health Minister and COVID-19 multi-ministry taskforce co-chair Gan Kim Yong on the same day.

All Singapore residents and long-term pass holders returning from overseas apart from Hubei province must serve the 14-day stay-home notice, while those returning from Hubei must serve a 14-day quarantine.

All short-term visitors are barred from entering or transiting via Singapore.

Wong, who is also the taskforce co-chair, had described Singapore’s situation as being in a “critical phase” in its fight against the virus and noted the possibility for the introduction of more drastic measures as cases continue to rise.

These would include the suspension of schools and closure of some workplaces, aside from those providing essential services.

Stricter measures were announced on Tuesday to combat community transmission of the virus, including capping social gatherings to 10 people or less as well as closing all entertainment venues – including bars, clubs and cinemas – from 11.59pm on Thursday till end-April, or longer.

Patients who flout their five-day medical leave can face steep penalties such as a fine of up to $10,000, according to the MOH’s update to the Infectious Diseases Act on Wednesday.

The Singapore government will allocate over $48 billion to combat the “unprecedented” COVID-19 crisis, said Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat in his Ministerial Statement delivered in Parliament on Thursday. The sum is on top of the $6.4 billion Unity Budget announced by Heng in February that was meant to alleviate the economic impact of the pandemic.

To date, there are over 489,000 COVID-19 cases globally. Over 22,000 have died from the virus, with the death tolls in Spain and Italy accounting for around half of the figure.

Italy is now the country with the highest number of fatalities, followed by Spain which surpassed China’s official count on Wednesday.

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