SINGAPORE: All senior-centric activities conducted by government agencies will be suspended for 14 days from Mar 11 to Mar 24, the Ministry of Health (MOH) said on Tuesday (Mar 10).
These include activities held at community clubs (CCs), residents' committees (RCs), senior activity centres, active aging hubs, CREST centres, Health Promotion Board and ActiveSG sport centres.
"We want to encourage seniors to be active, but there's now evidence of COVID-19 transmission among the seniors participating in such social activities, because some individuals who were unwell had continued to participate in them," said Health Minister Gan Kim Yong during a press conference on Tuesday.
The ministry said it found that many confirmed cases were transmitted during social activities and gatherings among seniors, including the cluster at SAFRA Jurong that emerged recently.
Additional targeted social distancing measures will be implemented for senior-centric activities in Singapore to reduce the risk of further transmission of COVID-19 among seniors, MOH said.
Until the suspension, organisers will implement additional precautionary measures before activities resume. These measures include:
- Reducing the group size of activities to prevent crowding.
- Re-organising activities to minimise physical contact.
- Increasing the frequency of sanitising equipment between activities.
- Providing sufficient facilities for regular hand washing.
- Checking if participants are well.
Care services - including nursing homes, inpatient and day hospices, senior care centre services and home-based care services - will continue to operate, but with additional precautionary measures in place.
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MANY CONFIRMED CASES WERE ACTIVE AGERS
"Seniors are a particularly vulnerable group," said MOH.
Many of the confirmed cases announced over the weekend that belonged to the SAFRA Jurong cluster were active agers who took part in singing classes and other activities such as qigong and line-dancing at CCs and RCs, MOH said.
The ministry on Mar 7 had called for a 14-day suspension of all activities and classes in CCs and RCs which the confirmed cases had participated in last Saturday. This included all singing classes organised by the People's Association at the affected facilities.
Seniors who feel unwell should see a doctor and stay at home, the ministry said. Those who are well can continue to go to work and go about their daily activities, such as grocery shopping and exercise, advised MOH.
However, they should continue to be careful to maintain good personal hygeine, wash their hands frequently and avoid touching their face and eyes, it added.
The multi-agency task force is assessing the situation locally as well as globally, and is studying a broader range of social distancing measures that might be taken to help further slow down the spread of the virus, MOH said.