Singapore extends lockdown by one month as coronavirus cases top 9,000 – dpa international


Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong speaking at a ruling People’s Action Party rally held shortly before January 2013 by-elections (Simon Roughneen)

KUALA LUMPUR — After Singapore’s cases of coronavirus soared by 1,111 on Tuesday to 9,125, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said that the country’s lockdown will be extended to June 1.

“This short-term pain is to stamp out the virus,” Lee said during a televised address to the nation.

“We cannot afford to be complacent,” Lee said, asking Singaporeans to “hunker down.”

After a surge since late March of cases of Covid-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus pandemic, Singapore imposed an effective lockdown on April 7 – measures the government labelled a “circuit breaker” aimed at stopping the spread of the disease.

Singapore’s Ministry of Health announced earlier on Tuesday that all but 20 of the 1,111 new cases are foreign work permit holders staying in dozens of purpose-built dormitories that house migrants from across Asia.

Singapore hosts almost 1.4 million foreign workers, with around 200,000 living in the crowded dormitories.

The ministry said on Monday that the rise in confirmed new cases in the dormitories is due to “extensive testing” of the residents, who are mostly male construction workers from countries such as Bangladesh, Indonesia, Myanmar and Pakistan.

Josephine Teo, Singapore’s Minister for Manpower, said on Tuesday that “the situation at dorms remains very challenging.”

Lee on Tuesday repeated reassurances given to foreign workers who have borne the brunt of Singapore’s nine-fold spike in cases since the start of the month.

“We will care for you just like we care for Singaporeans,” Lee said, promising that “we will work with your employers to make sure you get paid and you can send money home.”

On Monday, the Ministry of Health said most of the dormitory cases have “a mild illness” and “none of them is in the intensive care unit.”

Lee said the prevalance of mild or asymptomatic cases in the dormitories “is not surprising as they are generally young.”

Singapore’s rising case numbers mean that it has more confrmed Covid-19 infections than any of its South-East Asian neighbours, though its death toll remains a relatively-low 11, far fewer than Indonesia’s 616 or the Philippines’ 437.

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