Politics

Parliament: Coronavirus cases to rise as more overseas Singaporeans return home, says Gan Kim Yong

SINGAPORE – The number of coronavirus cases will continue to rise in coming weeks, as some of the 200,000 overseas Singaporeans return home, said Health Minister Gan Kim Yong on Wednesday.

He noted that the number of cases in Singapore has more than doubled in the past week, from 266 to a total of 558 currently.

“Almost 80 per cent of these new cases were imported, all from countries other than China even though we continued to see around 1,000 residents and long-term pass holders return from China in the past week,” he said.

As of Tuesday, there were more than 370,000 Covid-19 cases and over 16,500 fatalities from the disease worldwide, with the epicentre shifting from China to Europe.

In his ministerial statement in Parliament, Mr Gan said Singapore has slowed the spread of Covid-19 through a three-pronged approach: reducing importation, detecting and isolating cases early, and emphasising social responsibility and good personal hygiene habits.

Firstly, Singapore has implemented border controls to stem the inflow of travellers – all short-term visitors, including tourists, have been barred from entering or transiting since Tuesday.

The Government also advised Singaporeans to defer all travel until the global situation is under control.

It has strengthened border checks to detect and isolate cases before they come into contact with the wider community, and taken steps to detect cases early through surveillance at hospitals, polyclinics and the network of Public Health Preparedness Clinics.

Singapore residents have benefited from more than 267,000 subsidised attendances at these clinics so far, on top of those at polyclinics, Mr Gan said.

He added that Singapore has also carried out around 39,000 tests for Covid-19 to date.

This translates to 6,800 tests per million people in Singapore, compared with around 6,500 in South Korea, and 1,000 in Taiwan.

These tests are key in detecting as many cases as possible and as early as possible, he said.

“How the outbreak develops globally will depend on the strategies and efforts of countries around the world,” Mr Gan said, noting the World Health Organisation has advised that the course of the pandemic can still be changed if all countries take the necessary containment actions.

“Otherwise, we will continue to see the number of affected countries and cases rise rapidly.”

The top three sources of imported cases to Singapore are the United Kingdom, the United States and Indonesia, Mr Gan said.

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