SINGAPORE: Singapore reported 373 new COVID-19 cases as of noon on Thursday (May 28), taking its tally of infections to 33,249.
None of the new cases were Singaporeans or permanent residents, the first time since Feb 23.
Of the new infections, 372 were work permit holders residing in foreign worker dormitories, the Ministry of Health (MOH) said in its daily update.
The ministry said it continues to pick up many cases among work permit holders residing in dormitories, including in factory-converted dormitories, because of extensive testing in these premises.
Two new clusters were identified. Both are dormitories and are located at 15 Kaki Bukit Road 4 and 31 Kranji Crescent.
The only community case was a 49-year-old work pass holder from China. The woman, known as Case 33092, is a pre-school staff member and tested positive as a result of proactive screening for the sector.
She was asymptomatic and diagnosed with COVID-19 on Tuesday. MOH did not disclose her place of employment.
Serological testing will be conducted to determine if the woman has a past or current infection, said MOH.
Singapore has seen a decrease in the number of new cases in the community, said MOH, adding that infections among this group has fallen from an average of six 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 remained stable at an average of two per day in the past two weeks, said the ministry.
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The ministry has been actively testing various vulnerable groups for COVID-19.
More than 39,000 pre-school staff members have so far been tested, said MOH in its update on Thursday night.
These include individuals from Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA) pre-schools, Ministry of Education (MOE) kindergartens and pre-school sections in private education institutes.
To date, 13 pre-school staff members have tested positive using the polymerase chainreaction (PCR) test, which is a sensitive test that can pick up minute fragments of the COVID-19 virus ribonucleic acid (RNA).
To determine if these were past or current infections, MOH said it conducted an epidemiological study of these cases.
"Of the 13 cases, 11 of their serological tests have come back positive, which is indicative of past infections. These individuals were unlikely to be infectious by the time they were tested during the recent screening, but could be shedding minute fragments of the virus RNA, which were no longer transmissible and infective to others. Two test results are pending, including today’s case," the ministry said.
MOH also said on Thursday that 99 per cent of the new cases are linked to known clusters, while the rest are pending contact tracing. Further details can be found in MOH's daily situation report.
A total of 1,018 more patients have been discharged. In all, 18,294 have fully recovered from the infection and have been discharged from hospitals or community care facilities.
There are currently 510 patients still in hospital. Of these, most are stable or improving while seven are in critical condition in the intensive care unit.
A further 14,422 are isolated and cared for at community facilities. These are those who have mild symptoms, or are clinically well but still test positive for COVID-19.
To date, 23 have died from complications due to COVID-19 infection.
MOH said some of the confirmed community cases had visited the Jurong West 505 Market and Food Centre on May 25 and May 17 during their infectious period.
Among the other locations in MOH's list of public places visited by community cases include FairPrice supermarkets at Bukit Panjang Plaza, Hillion Mall and Jurong Point.
People who visited these places during timings specified in the list are advised to monitor their health closely for 14 days from their date of visit.
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MOVE TO PHASE 2 DEPENDS ON LOW, STABLE COMMUNITY TRANSMISSION
Singapore said earlier on Thursday that Phase 2 of its reopening after the “circuit breaker” period could start before the end of June if the number of transmissions in the community remained low.
"If infection rates remain low and stable, then we will decide by middle of June whether or not we want to take the next step to Phase 2. This means Phase 2 could happen before end of June," Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong said at a COVID-19 multi-ministry task force press conference.
About 75 per cent of the economy will resume operations in Phase 1, which will begin on Jun 2.
In Phase 2, retail shops, consumer services and sports facilities such as stadiums and swimming pools would be allowed to reopen. People would also be able to dine in at food outlets, subject to a maximum of five people in a group.
At the same press conference, Health Minister Gan Kim Yong said that effective immediately, COVID-19 patients in Singapore who are assessed to be clinically well by day 21 of the onset of illness can be discharged without further tests.
Previously, patients needed to test negative twice consecutively, 24 hours apart, in order to be discharged.
COVID-19 patients who are discharged under the new criteria will have to remain at home or at dormitories for another seven days before they can return to work after day 28 of their illness, said Mr Gan.
In an interview with CNA on Wednesday, Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat said that the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic meant Singapore's financial position would be "a lot weaker in the coming years".
"But for now, I think the most important thing is, first, keep our people safe and second, let's get the economy going again, as much as possible," Mr Heng said.
The Government on Tuesday unveiled its fourth Budget this year worth S$33 billion as Singapore gears up for the end of its "circuit breaker" period next week.