Singapore's coronavirus infections soar 3rd day, cases now top 10,000

23, Apr. 2020

SINGAPORE, Kyodo - Singapore on Wednesday reported a four-digit increase in new coronavirus infections for the third consecutive day, becoming the first Southeast Asian country to breach the 10,000 mark.

The Health Ministry said that the number of new cases in Singapore surged by 1,016, with nearly all occurring among low-paid migrant workers living in densely populated dormitories. Only 15 are Singaporeans or permanent residents.

olice officers wearing protective mask conduct spot checks on April 21, 2020 in Singapore.)[Getty/Kyodo]
olice officers wearing protective mask conduct spot checks on April 21, 2020 in Singapore.)[Getty/Kyodo]

Following Monday's jump of 1,426 and 1,111 on Tuesday, the number of infected in Singapore now stands at 10,141, one of the highest in all of Asia.

The city-state has had the highest number of cases in Southeast Asia since Sunday. However, the number of fatalities has remained one of the lowest at 11.

Health Minister Gan Kim Yong said on Tuesday that there has been a sharp increase in the past two weeks because of the government's "aggressive testing" of foreign workers in dormitories.

Amid the surge in the number of cases and concern with the persistence in the number of cases in the community that cannot be linked to any source, the government announced on Tuesday that it will extend a monthlong partial lockdown called "circuit-breaker," which was due to end on May 4, by another four weeks until June 1.

Under the current semi-lockdown, all non-essential businesses were ordered to close, as were schools and universities. Singaporeans are not allowed to leave their homes except for essential matters, such as buying groceries or for medical treatment.

Under new regulations enacted to enforce the circuit-breaker, heavy penalties in the form of fines and jail time can be levied for breaches of safe-distancing measures, such as not lining up at least 1 meter from each other when buying food or groceries, gathering with friends at home or outside and not wearing a mask when outside.

On Tuesday, it further tightened measures by barring all foreign workers living in the dormitories from going to work. According to the Health Ministry, as of Tuesday, 7,127 work permit holders living in the facilities have been infected.

About 1.2 million foreigners are working in Singapore, of whom roughly 200,000 live in 43 dormitories in various parts of the city. (Kyodo)