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Singapore Reports Record Increase in New Coronavirus Cases

James Poole

(Bloomberg) --

Singapore reported its largest daily increase in coronavirus cases on Wednesday, just as the city-state started a partial lockdown set to last several weeks to contain the spread of the infection.

Authorities said there were 142 new cases, bringing the country’s total to 1,623. An Indian national who died while awaiting his test result was subsequently confirmed to have the infection, according to the Ministry of Health. Investigations are going on to establish the cause of death, it said. If confirmed, that would be the seventh fatality linked to the disease.

Of the new cases, 40 are linked to clusters at foreign worker dormitories, and 28 are linked to non-dormitory clusters or other cases. Only two of the infections were imported. Contact tracing is pending on the remaining 72.

City Clampdown

Singapore this week banned public and private gatherings of any size and will fine or jail those involved in meetings among friends or family members who are not living together. The country has closed workplaces, except for essential services and key economic sectors, and schools have moved to full home-based learning as part of “circuit-breaker” measures, which last to May 4.

Concern has grown over the conditions of some 20,000 foreign workers housed in dormitories that have been gazetted as “isolation areas.” The government has been increasing efforts to ensure the workers receive regular meals and the dormitories are properly cleaned, according to the Ministry of Manpower.

The ministry said on Wednesday that conditions at the dormitories continue to improve, with meal portions increasing and waste management and sanitation regimes being stepped up.

(Updates to add comment from ministry in last paragraph.)

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