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30 new COVID-19 cases in Singapore, including 5 in the community

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SINGAPORE: A total of 30 new COVID-19 cases were reported in Singapore as of noon on Thursday (Dec 31), said the Ministry of Health (MOH) in its daily preliminary update.

Five community cases were reported and no new cases were found in foreign workers’ dormitories. This is the highest number of community infections reported in more than four months.

Of the five cases, two are family members of a previous community case – a Singapore permanent resident who works as a marine surveyor at Lloyd’s Register Singapore. He was reported as a confirmed case on Wednesday.

The three remaining cases are a family cluster involving a harbour pilot who was detected from rostered routine testing.

Of the new cases, 25 were imported and  were placed on stay-home notice or isolated upon their arrival in Singapore. Of the imported cases, five are Singaporeans or permanent residents while nine are foreign domestic workers.

“We are aggressively tracing and testing the close contacts of the community cases so as to ringfence these cases and prevent further transmission,” said MOH.

MOH added it will start a special testing operation to test individuals who boarded the ships that the harbour pilot and marine surveyor recently worked on.

Harbour pilots, marine surveyors and ship repair workers will also be tested in the coming days, regardless of their rostered routine testing schedule, to determine their COVID-19 status, said MOH.

“In view of the recent cases involving the marine sector, we will review the need to tighten our precautionary measures for these workers,” it added.

Details of the new cases will be released on Thursday night, said the health ministry.

Singapore began its COVID-19 vaccination exercise on Wednesday, with healthcare workers at the National Centre for Infectious Diseases the first to get the shots.

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine requires two injections, given 21 days apart. Those who receive the first dose on Wednesday are scheduled to return for their second dose on Jan 20 next year.

Vaccinations will subsequently be rolled out to more healthcare institutions.

This will be followed by vaccinations for the elderly – starting with those aged 70 years and above – from February. Thereafter, other Singaporeans and long-term residents who are medically eligible for vaccinations can do so.

The vaccine will be free for all Singaporeans and long-term residents, including long-term work permit holders.

MORE COVID-19 MEASURES FOR AIR CREW

Singapore on Wednesday also further tightened COVID-19 measures for air crew of Singapore carriers, including more frequent testing.

The move comes amid heightened risk of COVID-19 infection overseas given the resurgence observed in several parts of the world, said the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) on Wednesday.

The move also follows recent COVID-19 cases involving a Singapore Airlines (SIA) steward and pilot.

Air crew who layover in “high-risk destinations” will be required to undergo polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests on three occasions – upon arrival in Singapore, and on the third and seventh day following their return. Crew will also be required to self-isolate until they receive a negative result from their seventh-day PCR test.

Additionally, air crew on layover will be required to further minimise their contact with locals when they are overseas.

As of Thursday, Singapore has reported a total of 58,599 COVID-19 cases.

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