A total of 38 new community COVID-19 infections were reported in Singapore yesterday, according to the Ministry of Health (MOH). The number of cases linked to a cluster formed when a teacher at the Learning Point tuition centre tested positive has risen to 18. There were also 11 imported cases.
Concerned about a recent rise in COVID cases, Singapore is returning to the lockdown-like conditions it last imposed a year ago, banning dining-in and limiting gatherings to two people for a month.
For four weeks from May 16 to June 13, gathering sizes as well as household visitors will be cut to a maximum of two people from five people now, working from home will be the default, and food places can only do takeaways and deliveries, the MOH said in a statement. The resurgence is also putting a highly-anticipated travel bubble with Hong Kong in doubt.
“A pattern of local unlinked community cases has emerged and is persisting," the statement said. “We need to act decisively to contain these risks as any one leak could result in an uncontrolled resurgence of cases."
The number of new cases in the community has increased to 71 in the past week from 48 in the week before, the health ministry said, while the number of unlinked infections has risen to 15 in the past week from 7 in the week before. The city-state has planned extra precautions given the recent rise in variants and the COVID wave in India that inundated the healthcare system.
A 52-year-old male permanent resident employed by Certis as an auxiliary police officer at Bank of China at Westgate has preliminarily tested positive for the B1617 variant.
While the numbers are far smaller than ongoing outbreaks in countries like the US that are charging ahead with opening up, the flareup is a major setback by Singapore standards, as the city-state is one of handful of “Covid havens" that had previously nearly eliminated the pathogen domestically. These places are now struggling to find a path to re-open as their vaccination drives lag major western economies.
The return to near-lockdown in Singapore puts in doubt high-profile global initiatives meant to showcase its control of the virus.