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Singapore reports 49 new coronavirus cases, total infections reach 558

Press Trust of India  |  Singapore 

Singapore on Tuesday reported 49 new cases of the deadly novel coronavirus, taking the total number of infections in the country to 558 as the government announced stricter measures, including closure of entertainment places, to contain the spread of the disease.

The city-state government also limited gatherings outside schools and at work places to 10 people.

Singapore's Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance Heng Swee Keat will deliver a ministerial statement on Thursday regarding the government's additional support measures for workers, businesses and households in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to an official announcement.

Out of the 49 confirmed cases, 32 were imported.

The Ministry of Health said that most of the imported infections had a travel history to the UK, while others had been to the US, Malaysia, France, Indonesia and Australia.

Of the total 558 COVID-19 cases, 17 are receiving treatment in the ICU. To date, a total of 156 cases have been discharged. Others are in hospitals in a stable condition or improving.

"As the number of COVID-19 cases rise globally and the virus spreads across the world, we expect the number of cases in Singapore to increase.

"As part of our emergency response plan, the Ministry has already put in place plans to expand our hospital and clinical services capacities to deal with the increasing demand," the ministry said.

Gatherings outside school and work will be limited to a maximum of 10 people from Thursday midnight to April 30, the COVID-19 multi-ministry task force said.

It said that the duration of the stricter measures may be extended if the situation does not improve in the country.

Events, including festivals and concerts, which were limited to 250 participants previously will also have to adhere to the new measures.

All entertainment venues such as night clubs, discos, karaoke outlets, cinemas and theatres will be closed as there is high risk of transmission of the disease in these areas, the task force said in a statement.

The Islamic Religious Council of Singapore announced that mosques in the country will be closed until further notice amid a heightened risk of COVID-19 transmission in the community.

As the risk to the community remains high, the Fatwa committee has recommended the continued closure of mosques and the suspension of Friday prayers until further notice, until the situation improves, the statement said.

Singapore residents returning from the UK and United States will be taken from the airport to hotels to serve out their stay-home notices, the authorities said.

Those returning from the two countries make up the largest number of confirmed imported cases so far and this move will help prevent the potential spread of the infection to their family members, said National Development Minister Lawrence Wong, who co-heads a multi-ministry task force on COVID-19.

We expect more Singapore residents, including a sizeable group of Singaporean students, to return from these countries over the coming weeks in response to lockdowns in these countries, the ministry said.

About 1,200 people a day come to Singapore from the US and UK, but this number could change, Wong said.

Singapore has also barred short-term visitors.

Meanwhile, Singapore Airlines (SIA) said its pilots will be required to take leaves without pay from April as part of cost-cutting measures that are being put into place.

Captains will have to take seven days of compulsory no-pay leave, according to Channel Asia report.

SIA executives and associates will have to take one day of no-pay leave in April, and two days of no-pay leave in May, it said.

The measures are aimed at addressing the current manpower surpluses due to the deep capacity cuts that had been announced thus far, reported the Channel.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Tue, March 24 2020. 21:16 IST