Days after lockdown starts, Singapore’s coronavirus cases top 2,000 – dpa international

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KUALA LUMPUR — Singapore’s Ministry of Health announced on Friday that 198 new cases of coronavirus had been diagnosed over the past 24 hours, taking the country’s caseload to 2,108. A month ago Singapore had reported only 166 cases, numbers that meant despite its small size and high affluence, it was lauded as a disease-control exemplar.  Meticulous contact-tracing and widespread testing appeared to keep infection numbers low. Over 20,000 people have been quarantined, while schools and most businesses were open as recently as Tuesday, weeks after much of the outside world went into lockdown.  However as infection numbers rose beyond the 1,000-mark last week and health ministry officials found it increasingly difficult to source the origins of new infections, the government succumbed, announcing a month-long lockdown to try curb the spread of the virus. The restrictions were introduced on Tuesday and were branded a “circuit breaker.”

Malaysia’s virus tally passes 4,000 but recoveries top new cases – dpa international

KUALA LUMPUR — For the second day this week, Malaysia’s reported recoveries from the new coronavirus have exceeded the number of new cases. The Ministry of Health announced on Wednesday evening that 166 coronavirus patients had been discharged from hospital over the 24 hours up to noon the same day. The ministry stated that 156 new cases of Covid-19, the respiratory disease caused by the virus, were diagnosed over the same period. Wednesday’s new recoveries take the total to 1,487 out of 4,119 cases confirmed since the first was announced on January 25. 236 recoveries were announced on Monday, which was a daily record. However Wednesday’s new cases mean Malaysia is the the first country in South-east Asia to report more than 4,000 coronavrus infections. Testing rates are lower in neighbouring countries such as Indonesia and the Philippines, both of which have much bigger populations than Malaysia.

Singapore ups fiscal spend for a third time, aims soften economic impact of Covid-19 – dpa international

Singapore skyline over Marina Bay (Simon Roughneen)

KUALA LUMPUR — In a televised speech to parliament on Monday afternoon, Singapore Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat announced a “solidarity budget” that will take government spending aimed at curbing the impact of coronavirus to over 40 billion dollars. Heng said the outlay aims “to save jobs and protect livelihoods of people” during an effective lockdown due to start tomorrow. All Singaporean adults are to receive a one-off handout worth 421 dollars (600 Singapore dollars) while some business levies will be waived or reduced. Monday marks the third time in six weeks that Heng has introduced extra fiscal measures to counter the economic devastation wrought by Covid-19, the potentially fatal respiratory disease caused by the new coronavirus.

Despite economic risk, Singapore lockdown looms after Covid-19 surge – dpa international

KUALA LUMPUR — Announcing an effective lockdown that will run for a month from April 7, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong told Singaporeans on Friday afternoon that the country needs to “make a decisive move now” to stop the coronavirus. “We will close most workplaces except for essential services,” Lee said, touting the move as a “circuit breaker” aimed at interrupting a startling jump in infections over the past week. Singapore has seen the number of cases of Covid-19, the disease caused by the virus, rise to 1,114. Five people have died, the latest fatality announced on Friday morning. Most of this week’s diagnoses have been described by the Health Ministry as “local,” after a period of weeks when most of the new cases originated in homebound Singaporeans and were labelled “imported.” “For half of these [new] cases we don’t know where or from whom they caught the virus,” Lee said

Biggest daily jump sees coronavirus cases in Singapore hit 1,000 – dpa international

The Diabetes and Metabolism Center at Singapore General Hospital (Simon Roughneen)

KUALA LUMPUR — Singapore’s Health Ministry on Wednesday night confirmed 74 new cases of Covid-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, representing the biggest one-day increase since the outbreak began. The city-state’s total caseload has now reached 1,000. Fifty-four of the newly-confirmed diagnoses were described by the ministry as “local.” The resurgence in cases with no recent overseas travel history reverses a trend of “imported” cases – mostly homebound Singaporeans.  “Our focus now has to be on our locally transmitted cases, especially the cases that are still popping up,” said National Development Minister Lawrence Wong. 

Malaysia extends virus lockdown to mid-April as deaths hit 19 – dpa international

Lockdown as seen Iinside a Kuala Lumpur shopping mall on March 25 2020 (Simon Roughneen)

KUALA LUMPUR — Malaysia will extend restrictions aimed at stemming rising numbers of new coronavirus cases until mid-April, Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said on Wednesday. “The trend [of new infections] is expected to continue for a while before new cases begin to subside,” Muhyiddin said in a televised lunchtime address, announcing that curbs on travel and business imposed a week ago will be extended to April 14. “The public must be mentally and physically prepared to stay at home for a reasonably longer period of time,” the prime minister warned. Malaysia’s Health Ministry announced later on Wednesday that 19 people have died in the country after contracting Covid-19, the respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus, in the pandemic that has killed over 19,000 worldwide.