No second wave of infections, despite recent bump in community cases
More than half of the recent community cases were linked and already isolated, posing less risk: Task force
A recent bump in the number of community cases worried the authorities, who launched an investigation fearing that a second wave of Covid-19 infections could be on its way.
But the fears of the multi-ministry task force were eased after a thorough analysis showed the situation was under control.
During a virtual press conference yesterday, Health Minister Gan Kim Yong said a deeper investigation was done after the average number of daily community cases increased to 12 this past week, compared with eight the week before that.
The investigation found that more than half of the cases were linked, and were already being monitored and isolated, posing a lower risk.
About 40 per cent, however, were unlinked cases.
"Those cases that are linked, we know where the sources are, so we are more assured that we are able to ringfence them," said Mr Gan, who together with Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong, helms the Covid-19 task force.
"The unlinked cases are those that are of more concern."
But he explained that of the unlinked cases, about half were those involved in the construction industry, indicating a likelihood they were infected via their work activities.
Of the remaining unlinked cases, Mr Gan said some tested positive with serology tests, indicating they were infected some time back.
Mr Wong said that while there are no plans to reimpose a nationwide circuit breaker, this cannot be ruled out.
An expanded toolkit of control measures, including casting a wider net around virus cases, testing more extensively and putting more close contacts on quarantine, is key to preventing this, he pointed out.
The task force urged continued vigilance, with Mr Gan citing the nine people living in Block 111 Tampines Street 11 who got Covid-19.
The cases were from two households on different floors, but they shared the same lifts and stairwell.
Said Mr Gan: "To be honest, when we saw the cluster in Tampines St 11, I was very concerned that this could be a major outbreak for us because we have quite a number of cases within one household, and then it had some connection to the second household."
With this in mind, the decision was made to test everyone in that section of the block.
A total of 118 people who live in the block or visited the clusters there have been tested since the end of June and all have come back negative.
"We have not been able to establish conclusively what's the connection between the two (households) but there is a suspicion that there would have been some connection between the two clusters," pointed out Mr Gan.
Investigations are ongoing to narrow it down to a particular link or cause.
Workplace infections up since phase two began
The place where people are getting infected with Covid-19 has changed since phase two began on June 19.
Workplace infections have risen from 22 per cent before phase two to 36 per cent now.
Prior to that, 71 per cent of linked community cases were infected at home. This has dropped to 41 per cent between June 19 and July 5.
At a multi-ministry task force press conference yesterday, National Development Minister Lawrence Wong said of workplace transmissions: "That's one area where all of us can do our part to reduce transmission further."
He urged people who can work from home to continue to do so and for employers to allow this "to further reduce transmission".
He said: "I hear some people saying their bosses are now asking them to go back to work. Well, that should not be the case.
"Employers should still have their staff work from home. They should only come back to the office to work if there's a clear and demonstrable need to do so; because employees need to use some specialised equipment or machinery at work... "
It is a precaution all employers should take, so that if there is one infected person at the workplace, it will not cause a large cluster, he said.
While the company may put in social distancing measures at the office, Mr Wong said infection could spread among fellow workers through social interaction. He warned: "Should a cluster form in the workplace, we may very well have to ask the employer to shut down their business operations temporarily, and then require every employee to be tested.
"This will impact the business. So it's better for the business operator to take this seriously and put in place all the necessary precautions and measures."
The authorities are also keeping an eye on transmissions due to social interactions, which have doubled from 1 per cent to 2 per cent.
"We still put in place a lot of restrictions (and) they are helping. Many of us certainly would like to see these restrictions relaxed over time, but if we want to do that, all of us have to be responsible and vigilant," Mr Wong said.
4 students and 1 school teacher among 20 new community cases
Four students and a school teacher are among the 20 community cases announced yesterday.
The students are from Bedok View Secondary School, East Spring Primary School, Jurong West Primary School and Jurong West Secondary School, while the teacher is from Assumption Pathway School, the Ministry of Education (MOE) said in a statement yesterday.
The four students are linked to household infections and were on home quarantine order before they later underwent a swab test as close contacts of their household members.
They were well when they were last in school the previous week, said the ministry.
Investigations are under way for the teacher.
MOE said that beyond existing safe management measures, the affected schools have implemented additional precautions including thorough cleaning and disinfection of their premises.
For Bedok View Secondary School, MOE said that since the student was last in school on June 30, the Ministry of Health (MOH) has assessed the risk of infection for students and staff to be low and no leave of absence or home quarantine order has been issued.
But about 60 students and 10 staff members each from the other schools who were in contact with the confirmed cases have been issued a 14-day leave of absence by MOE or home quarantine order by MOH.
There were also three Singaporean children among the new community cases: a two-year-old boy, a nine-year-old girl and an 11-year-old boy.
The two younger children are contacts of a previously announced patient - a 29-year-old Indonesian woman who tested positive last Thursday - and were confirmed to be infected on Monday.
The 11-year-old boy is a contact of another previously announced patient.
Twelve of the community cases are linked to previous cases or clusters, while eight cases are currently unlinked.
The ActiveSG gym at Jurong Lake Gardens, the StarHub outlet in Tampines Mall, as well as Great World , Jurong Point, FairPrice Hub and JEM, are among places visited by Covid-19 patients while they were still infectious, MOH said.
There were three imported Covid-19 cases yesterday.
They are two Indian nationals who are dependant's pass holders, and had returned to Singapore from India on June 23, and a Filipino work pass holder who had returned to Singapore from the Philippines on June 19.
All three had been placed on 14-day stay-home notices upon arrival in Singapore and had been tested while serving the notices.
By the numbers
157 New cases
20 New cases in community
45,140 Total cases
285 Discharged yesterday
40,990 Total recovered
219 Total in hospital
1 In intensive care unit