Singapore’s schools reopen despite pandemic, bucking global trend – dpa international


KUALA LUMPUR — Singapore’s schools and kindergartens reopened as scheduled on Monday after a holiday, a day after the government announced a ban on visitors due to the pandemic.

Schools are deploying “enhanced precautionary measures” such as daily temperature checks and “wipe-down routines” in classrooms, the Education Ministry said. Any student or teacher who had been abroad during the previous two weeks would be required to stay at home for the following two weeks, the maximum estimated incubation period for Covid-19.

The reopening comes as the number of cases of Covid-19, the disease caused by the virus, continues to increase in Singapore, with 32 new cases announced on Sunday for a total of 455. Two people have died.

That number is relatively low compared with countries in Europe, the pandemic’s “epicentre” according to the World Health Organization, where widespread school closures have been ordered in recent weeks.

Singapore’s Health Ministry said on Sunday that 80 per cent of recent cases to the wealthy city-state were “imported” – mostly Singaporeans returning from overseas.

Aiming to stem the rising number of imported cases, Singapore on Sunday announced that all foreign tourists and short-term visitors would be denied entry from midnight on Monday and said that returning Singaporeans would face a mandatory 14-day quarantine.

Singapore Airlines (SIA) said on Monday morning that it will ground almost all of its aircraft until the end of April, citing dwindling revenue and the proliferation of travel restrictions imposed in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The national carrier said it “will be cutting 96 [per cent] of the capacity that had been originally scheduled” after the government on Sunday banned visitors and warned that due to “uncertainty as to when the stringent border controls will be lifted,” it is “unclear” when normal services will resume.

A flight descending into Singapore’s Changi Airpor, as seen from Pulau Ubin , a small island of Singapore’s main island (Simon Roughneen)

Only nine of SIA’s 147-strong fleet, which includes aircraft operated by its SilkAir wing, will continue to operate, while SIA’s low-cost Scoot division, which flies short-haul to neighbouring countries, will ground all but two of its 49 passenger jets.

SIA made world headlines in 2018 when it launched the world’s longest non-stop commercial flight – an 18-hour odyssey from Singapore to New York.

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