SINGAPORE: A total of 38 new community COVID-19 infections were confirmed in Singapore as of noon on Sunday (May 16), of which seven were "preliminarily positive" for the B1617 variant from India.
This is the highest number of community cases reported since Apr 14 last year when 40 community infections were reported. Singapore's "circuit breaker" started on Apr 7, 2020.
Twenty-one of the new community cases are linked to previous infections and the remaining 17 are unlinked. Of the new community cases, 13 people were placed in quarantine earlier, said the ministry.
Six of the seven cases that tested preliminarily positive for the B1617 variant were unlinked cases.
They include a 54-year-old Malaysian woman who works at Sms Infocomm (Singapore), a 55-year-old Singaporean man who works as a driver at KEN Express Services, a 52-year-old permanent resident who works as a Certis Cisco auxiliary police officer at the Bank of China in Westgate, and a 57-year-old Malaysian woman who is unemployed.
There is also a 34-year-old Singaporean man who works at ST Telemedia Global Data Centres and a 29-year-old Singaporean man who works as a digital web designer.
The linked case that tested preliminarily positive for the variant is a Filipino man who works as a sales representative at JR Life Sciences. He had visited Changi Airport Terminal 3 on May 4 and is among the six new cases linked to the cluster there.
LEARNING POINT CENTRE CLUSTER
Nine new cases were linked to the cluster at the Learning Point centre. Among them are four students aged between eight and nine years.
Two of the students are from Kong Hwa School, one is from Yu Neng Primary School and the remaining one is from St Margaret's Primary School.
All four had attended classes at the tuition centre in Parkway Centre taught by a 50-year-old tutor, who was the first detected case in the cluster. They were placed in quarantine on May 13 before testing positive for COVID-19.
The remaining five new cases in the cluster are family members and household contacts of previous cases.
The Learning Point cluster now has 18 confirmed cases.
CHANGI AIRPORT CLUSTER GROWS
Six more cases have been linked to the cluster at Changi Airport, including a one-year-old Singaporean boy who was placed on quarantine on May 13.
He is a family member of Case 63146, a Gojek driver who had visited Changi Airport Terminal 3 on May 6. The boy developed a fever and a runny nose on May 15.
The other five cases were detected through surveillance testing.
They include a 37-year-old Filipino man and a 39-year-old Filipino nurse working at Ren Ci Nursing Home (Ang Mo Kio) who is a household contact of a previous case.
The three remaining cases are employees deployed at Terminal 3 - a 36-year-old stall assistant at the Kopitiam outlet, a 66-year-old aviation security officer and a 26-year-old retail store sales associate.
OTHER COMMUNITY CASES
The remaining community cases reported on Sunday include a Singapore Polytechnic student, a nurse at Raffles Hospital and an employee at Sheng Siong supermarket in Bukit Batok. All are unlinked cases.
Two dealers at Marina Bay Sands Casino also tested positive for COVID-19.
MOH has also identified two new clusters - one at Changi Prison Complex and another linked to a cook at a Wok Hey outlet at White Sands mall.
A total of 11 cases reported on Sunday were imported and were placed on stay-home notice or isolated upon their arrival in Singapore.
Five are returning permanent residents who had arrived from India.
Another five cases are work permit holders, including four domestic workers, who travelled from Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines.
There is a special pass holder, a sea crew member, who arrived from the United Arab Emirates on a vessel. He was tested onboard.
No new infections were reported in foreign workers' dormitories.
More details can be found in the health ministry’s daily situation report.
INCREASE IN UNLINKED CASES
MOH said the number of new cases in the community has increased from 39 in the week before to 131 in the past week.
The number of unlinked cases has also increased from six in the week before to 32 in the past week.
Forty-two more cases have been discharged from hospitals or community isolation facilities, bringing Singapore's total recoveries to 61,104.
There are 207 cases still in hospital, most of whom are stable or improving. Two are in critical condition in the intensive care unit.
Another 243 are isolated and cared for at community facilities.
FULL HOME-BASED LEARNING FROM MAY 19
It was announced earlier on Sunday that primary and secondary schools, as well as junior colleges, will move to full home-based learning starting on Wednesday until the end of term.
The move, which will also apply to special education schools, comes after several primary school students tested positive for COVID-19 in recent days.
Pre-schools and student care centres will remain open to support families who need these services, said Minister for Education Chan Chun Sing.
Institutes of higher learning will reduce attendance on campus by converting more classes online where possible, except for essential in-person sessions like labs, practicals and final-year projects, he added.
All centre-based tuition and enrichment classes should move activities online until the end of Phase 2 (Heightened Alert), said the Ministry of Education.
Tighter restrictions to curb the spread of the coronavirus in the community kicked in on Sunday and will last until Jun 13.
Under the Phase 2 (Heightened Alert) rules, group gatherings are capped at two, down from five previously. Households are allowed to receive only two distinct visitors a day, down from the previous limit of five.
Dining-in at food outlets is suspended.
As of Sunday, Singapore has reported a total of 61,585 COVID-19 cases and 31 fatalities from the disease.