Singapore warns of higher community spread risk

woman being vaccinated in Singapore. (PHOTO: Getty Images)

The Financial Times, MAY, 11, 2021

By George Russell

Singapore has warned of a higher risk of community transmission as health workers battle clusters of new variants of Covid-19.

After six months of low daily community cases, often in single digits, the city-state has identified several clusters of infections over the past two weeks.

“The emergence of several clusters, new variants, as well as rising number of unlinked cases mean the risk of community transmission has gone up,” Gan Kim Yong, health minister, told parliament on Tuesday.

“Therefore, we must continue to stay vigilant and tighten our safe distancing measures in the community to slow down and prevent transmission of the virus.”

Genomic sequencing indicates that recent clusters in the south-east Asian country have been driven by the B.1.617.2 variant that was first detected in India. Three recent cases at airport terminals also tested preliminarily positive for that variant.

The largest cluster, which emerged at Tan Tock Seng Hospital, has resulted in 2,300 people being quarantined, while more than 12,500 people have been tested since April 28, when the first case — a staff nurse — was confirmed.

A total of 43 cases were confirmed, comprising 10 staff, 26 patients and seven visitors or household members.

Of those 43, seven staff and two patients had received full doses of vaccine. “They were all either asymptomatic or only exhibited mild symptoms,” Gan said.

Singapore has confirmed 61,378 cases of Covid-19 infections among its 5.6m people, 31 of them fatal.

“The Covid-19 situation remains fluid,” Gan said.


About the author:

George Russell

George Russell writes for the live blog and on occasional breaking news from Hong Kong.He has previously written for the Far Eastern Economic Review, Variety and the New York Post.
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