SINGAPORE (Apr 18): Singapore reported its highest single day spike of 942 cases of Covid-19 on Saturday, bringing the total number of infections in the republic to 5,992.

The nation also reported its 12th death – a 40-year old Malaysian. He had tested positive for Covid-19 on Friday but died not from causes due to the coronavirus.

Of the new cases, 79% are linked to known clusters while the rest are pending contact tracing, the Ministry of Health (MOH) announced in its daily update.

“The contact tracing and epidemiology teams are working to identify the source of infection for the unlinked cases, but this will become increasingly difficult as time passes,” the ministry says.

So far, the number of unlinked cases has edged up to a daily average of 22 cases, from 19 cases last week. 

Saturday saw a record high of 893 cases among Work Permit holders living in dormitories, as they undergo more tests. Most of the cases are young and have mild illnesses, MOH says.

Another 27 cases are among work permit holders living outside dormitories.

The remaining 22 cases for the day were within the community.

Three new clusters have been identified. They are: Homestay Lodge (39 Kaki Bukit Avenue 3), CDPL Tuas Dormitory (6 Tuas South Street 15) and TTJ Design & Engineering Pte Ltd (57 Pioneer Road).

Stemming spread at workers' dorms

Touching on the massive spread of Covid-19 in workers’ dormitories, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong says that while efforts are being made to stem the spread, it will take some time for results to show.

“We must expect to see more dorm cases for a while longer. But we are building up our healthcare isolation facilities to handle the load,” he added in a Facebook post on Saturday.

To date, 12 dormitories have been gazetted as isolation areas, meaning workers will be confined to their rooms for 14 days.

Additionally, a 14-day stay-home notice has been imposed on all work permit and S Pass holders in the construction industry from Monday till May 4.

This is to curb the spread of the coronavirus at work sites, by ensuring there is no interaction amongst workers outside the residence, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) and Building and Construction Authority (BCA) say in a joint statement.

With 284,300 work permit holders in the construction industry, it has the highest number of infected cases. And work site transmissions may be a contributing factor, the authorities observe.

So far, construction work has generally ceased expect for critical public infrastructure projects, maintenance and services ensuring public safety and emergency repairs and maintenance. These are considered essential services.

The authorities say employers may seek exemptions for their workers working in essential services to continue working.

Otherwise, strict enforcement action will be taken against errant employers or employees who do not comply, they stress.

"MOM will take strict enforcement measures against errant employers or employees who do not comply with the Stay Home Notice requirements, including the suspension of work pass privileges and revocation of work passes," it said. 

"This is necessary to protect the health and safety of the larger community."

'Early signs'
Saturday marks day 12 of Singapore's month-long circuit breaker mandating the stoppage of operations of non-essential services. And while it seems to have brought down the tranmission of Covid-19 in the general community, PM Lee points out that this is an "early sign".

"We are still worried about hidden cases circulating in our population which are keeping the outbreak going," he stresses.

"The next few days will be critical. All of us must do our part in order to defeat Covid-19".