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


Kuala Lumpur (dpa) – 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.”

In a statement earlier on Friday, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong implored Singaporeans to stick to the new rules. “Stay at home; stop socialising in person with others, even with extended family members who do not live with you,” he said.

202 of Singapore’s record 287 new cases diagnosed on Thursday were linked to expatriate worker dormitories. 79 of Friday’s new cases were traced to the dormitories.

Lee said the government was “paying close attention to the welfare of the foreign workers,” promising they would receive both salaries and any necessary medical treatment.

Lawrence Wong, Minister for National Development, said on Thursday that it is “very likely that the virus spread had been going around for some time in the dormitories.”

The Covid-19 pandemic has killed over 96,000 people worldwide, including seven in Singapore, where the government has acknowledged that the trade-oriented city-state faces a sharp recession due to the worldwide slump in commerce caused by the disease and lockdowns

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