SINGAPORE: The number of COVID-19 cases in Singapore crossed the 29,000 mark on Wednesday (May 20), with 570 new infections reported as of noon.
This brings the total number of cases in the country to 29,364.
There were eight new cases in the community, said the Ministry of Health (MOH) in its daily update.
Of the eight cases, one is a Singaporean and another is a permanent resident. Five of the new community cases are work permit holders, while one is a work pass holder.
MOH said that it had previously tracked the work permit holders living outside dormitories as a separate category, and had put a large number of these workers on stay-home notices.
"The stay-home notices for these workers have since expired. Hence we have now updated the definition of 'cases in the community' to include all cases (including among work permit holders) who are detected outside of the dormitories," said the ministry.
Of the five cases involving work permit holders, two had been identified as contacts of earlier confirmed cases, and had already been placed on quarantine.
Epidemiological investigations are ongoing for the other cases, said MOH.
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One of the new community cases is a 57-year-old Singaporean man who had gone to work at Kranji Lodge 1 after experiencing onset of symptoms on May 16.
The man tested positive for COVID-19 three days later. He is linked to the cluster at the dormitory, which now has 511 cases.
Another patient among the new community cases is a 34-year-old man who is a permanent resident. He tested positive for COVID-19 on May 19.
He is a household contact of Case 21538 - a 31-year-old Singaporean woman who was confirmed to have the infection on May 7, according to MOH's previous reports.
MOH said that the number of new cases in the community has decreased, from an average of eight cases per day in the week before, to an average of five per day in the past week.
"The number of unlinked cases in the community has also decreased, from an average of three cases per day in the week before, to an average of two per day in the past week."
A total of 562 of the new cases are work permit holders residing in foreign worker dormitories.
"We continue to pick up many more cases among work permit holders residing in dormitories, including in factory-converted dormitories, because of extensive testing in these premises, as part of our process to verify and test the status of all workers," said the health ministry.
Two new clusters were reported on Wednesday at 29 Senoko South Road and 144 Tagore Lane.
NURSE AT REN CI COMMUNITY HOSPITAL AMONG NEW CASES
Among the new cases is a 30-year-old Filipino woman who is a Singapore work pass holder, said MOH.
She is employed as a nurse at Ren Ci Community Hospital and has no recent travel history to affected countries or regions.
The woman was confirmed to have COVID-19 on May 19, and is currently warded at the National Centre for Infectious Diseases. She had not gone to work since experiencing the onset of symptoms, said MOH.
Ren Ci said the nurse, who worked at the community hospital in Irrawady Road, had no prior contact with the previous confirmed case at Ren Ci's nursing home in Ang Mo Kio.
"We have put in place team segregation and staff movement restriction between the different facilities’ care teams since February," said Ren Ci in a statement on Wednesday.
Staff members and patients who were identified as close contacts have been tested for COVID-19, said Ren Ci, adding that the results returned negative.
Another 842 more patients have been discharged from hospitals or community isolation facilities. In all, 11,207 people have fully recovered from the infection and have been discharged from hospitals or community care facilities.
There are currently 954 confirmed COVID-19 cases who are still in hospital, said MOH.
Of these, most are stable or improving, and 11 are in a critical condition in the intensive care unit.
Another 17,181 patients are isolated and cared for at community facilities. These are cases who have mild symptoms, or are clinically well but still test positive for COVID-19.
Twenty-two people have passed away from complications due to COVID-19 infection.
READ: Singapore to exit circuit breaker on Jun 1, visiting of parents, places of worship allowed with restrictions
EXITING THE CIRCUIT BREAKER
Singapore announced on Tuesday it will exit the "circuit breaker" as planned on Jun 1, with measures to be progressively lifted in three phases from the following day.
The decision was made because of the low number of cases in the community and the "stabilised situation" at the foreign worker dormitories, Health Minister Gan Kim Yong said.
Businesses, including manufacturing firms, that operate in settings with lower transmission risks will be allowed to open. However, telecommuting must be used to the “maximum extent”, authorities said.
Most retail outlets will however not reopen in Phase 1, and dining-in at food and beverage outlets will also not be allowed. Sports and recreation facilities will also remain closed.
READ: COVID-19: Graduating primary, secondary students to attend school on weekdays after circuit breaker ends; others to rotate weekly
Schools will reopen on Jun 2, with students in Primary 6 and Secondary 4 and 5 attending on weekdays and those in other cohorts rotating weekly between home-based learning and returning to school for lessons.
As parents return to work, pre-schools will also gradually reopen from Jun 2 so that young children can be cared for.
People will be allowed to visit their parents or grandparents, although the "receiving household" should limit such visits to one a day and not more than two persons who must be from the same visiting household, authorities said.
On Tuesday, the number of discharged COVID-19 patients in Singapore exceeded 10,000. Ten patients were in a critical condition and under intensive care, the lowest number since the start of the circuit breaker on Apr 7.