(Singapore, April 17, 2020)Local coronavirus cases in the community have remained stable over the past two weeks, despite the soaring number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in worker dormitories, Singapore’s experts and officials have said.

The number of new cases daily has hit new highs, with 728 announced yesterday. However, the number of new cases in the community has in fact decreased from an average of 38 cases per day in the week before to an average of 37 cases a day in the last week. There were 48 new cases in the community yesterday, the Health Ministry said.

But the case numbers in dormitories have exposed a weak link that could push Singapore’s Covid-19 situation into a critical state, other weak links remain, and these could seed a large cluster unless everyone is vigilant.

Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said in a Facebook post yesterday that many of the recent COVID-19 cases are work permit holders living in dormitories.


Screenshot of PM Lee’s Facebook post on the recent spike in confirmed coronavirus numbers


On Tuesday, Minister Josephine Teo explained our three-pronged strategy to tackle the problem: Actively contain the spread of the disease, stop new clusters from forming, and separate out the workers in essential services.

Lee said: “We have deployed FAST teams (Forward Assurance Support Teams) in all the dorms to support the operation. We are deploying medical teams too, to look after the health and welfare of the workers.”

He said many ministries are working closely together to ensure the well-being of the workers and help the sick ones to recover.

“Foreign workers have helped us to build HDB towns, MRT lines, airports and ports. Some man midnight shifts in our factories. Others take care of our sick and elderly in hospitals and nursing homes. Hundreds of thousands of Singapore households depend on domestic workers from neighboring countries.”

Professor Teo Yik Ying, Dean of the National University of Singapore’s Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health said as quoted by The Straits Times: “Sufficient time has passed for the majority of household transmissions, if any, to have occurred, as a result of people staying at home.”

However, just as the case numbers in dormitories have exposed a weak link that could push Singapore’s COVID-19 situation into a critical state, warned Prof Teo as quoted by ST.