Singapore's daily count of imported cases exceeds dormitory infections for the first time in 6 months

Singapore's daily count of imported cases exceeds dormitory infections for the first time in 6 months

People walk along the transit hall area inside a terminal of the Changi International Airport
People walk along the transit hall area inside a terminal of the Singapore Changi Airport on Sep 11, 2020. (Photo: AFP/Roslan Rahman)

SINGAPORE: The number of new daily COVID-19 cases imported into Singapore from overseas surpassed the number of new infections among migrant workers living in dormitories for the first time in six months on Thursday (Oct 1), according to data compiled by CNA.

Singapore had 21 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, said the Ministry of Health (MOH) in a preliminary report.

The ministry classifies COVID-19 cases into three categories: Imported, community and those residing in dormitories.

Of the new cases reported on Thursday, 15 were imported and three were in the community, leaving three infections from dormitories.

This is the first time in six months that new imported cases have exceeded new dormitory infections.

The last time the daily count of infections imported into Singapore from overseas exceeded those in the migrant worker dormitories was on Apr 1, about a week after authorities started banning short-term visitors from entering the country. On Apr 1, there were 19 imported cases and 13 infections among those in worker quarters.

READ: Rigorous testing could help revive travel but challenges remain, say experts

MEASURES TO TACKLE IMPORTED CASES, DORM INFECTIONS

Singapore reported its first case of COVID-19 on Jan 23 - a 66-year-old Chinese national from Wuhan who had arrived in Singapore three days earlier.

It had 455 cases by Mar 22 - the same day MOH announced that short-term visitors would be barred from entering or transiting through Singapore.

The restrictions, which took effect at 11.59pm on Mar 23, was done in view of the “heightened risk of importation of COVID-19 cases”, the ministry said then.

New imported infections fell drastically not long after the travel restrictions, with zero such cases on more than half the days in April.

New cases among migrant worker dormitories, however, started rising in April, with daily figures soaring past 1,000 on two days.

Over the next few months, a range of measures were implemented to bring the situation under control, including placing all dormitories in lockdown, separating healthy and essential workers in alternative accommodation, setting up onsite medical facilities and the testing of all workers.

READ: Migrant workers to remain in dormitories on rest days in Phase 2 of reopening: MOM

Since clearing all the dormitories, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) has implemented safe living, safe working and safe rest day measures in migrant worker dormitories to prevent the spread and formation of large COVID-19 clusters.

Workers are also required to undergo regular rostered routine testing as part of efforts to detect COVID-19 early.

The daily count of dormitory cases dropped to double digit numbers on Aug 11, and has remained under 20 cases each day over the past week.

READ: The long, challenging journey to bring COVID-19 under control in migrant worker dormitories

EASING TRAVEL RESTRICTIONS 

Singapore is now in Phase 2 of its reopening after an almost two-month long "circuit breaker" period to stem the spread of COVID-19.

Almost every industry has been affected by COVID-19 restrictions. With border restrictions and lockdowns around most of the world, the aviation and tourism sectors have been particularly hit, with airlines forced to ground their planes. 

In August, Singapore saw 8,190 visitor arrivals, down 99.5 per cent from the same time last year. 

Singapore’s borders are now reopening gradually to allow safe travel in limited numbers, with the necessary health safeguards.

On Wednesday, Singapore said it would lift border restrictions for short-term visitors from Australia, excluding Victoria state, and Vietnam from Oct 8.

The move came after Singapore lifted border restrictions for visitors from Brunei and New Zealand from Sep 8.

Every step that Singapore takes to safely reopen its borders will help "resuscitate" Changi Airport, said Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung on Wednesday.

Singapore's tally of COVID-19 cases currently stands at 57,786, with 27 deaths linked to the disease.

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Source: CNA/aa(aj)

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