Left Menu
Development News Edition

Singapore closes workplaces, schools as coronavirus cases jump

Reuters | Updated: 03-04-2020 16:32 IST | Created: 03-04-2020 16:32 IST
Singapore closes workplaces, schools as coronavirus cases jump

Singapore will close schools and most workplaces for a month as part of stricter measures to curb a recent jump in coronavirus infections, it said on Friday, an announcement that sent locals racing to supermarkets to stock up on staples.

The city-state has won international praise for its two-month long battle against a virus that has infected over a million people globally, avoiding lockdown measures increasingly common around the world. But authorities said record jumps in new infections this week, taking its total to 1,114 cases, pointed to the need for a tougher approach.

Disease experts have said breaches in Singapore's lauded virus defence have underlined the challenge of containing the pandemic around the world. "We have decided that instead of tightening incrementally over the next few weeks, we should make a decisive move now, to pre-empt escalating infections," Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said in a speech.

Long queues promptly formed outside shops across the island and residents cleared shelves despite authorities saying supermarkets will remain open. "I rushed here an hour ago because my friends sent me a message about a lockdown. Even now in the supermarket, there are empty shelves," said Kim Melissa Hwang, 57, adding she had also just lost her job at a restaurant.

"If there is no job and no food...it's very sad." "CIRCUIT BREAKER"

PM Lee said the government would next week announce more support for households and businesses to tide them over the next month. The wealthy finance and shipping hub is bracing for the worst recession in its 55-year history due to the pandemic, and the government has already announced virus relief measures this year equal to 11% of its GDP.

Under the new measures - which authorities have called a "circuit breaker" - markets and supermarkets, clinics, hospitals, utilities, transport and key banking services will remain open. Restaurants will be only allowed to do takeaway or delivery, while museums, casinos and gyms will be closed. The new measures will be in place from April 7 until May 4, while schools will move to full home-based learning from April 8. The measures could be extended beyond a month if the situation did not improve, authorities said.

Lee urged everyone to stay at home as much as possible and to avoid socialising with others beyond their own household. "Go out only to do essential things," he said.

Authorities held back from raising the national virus risk assessment to red, the top level, saying the spread could still be controlled through other preventative measures such as contact tracing and quarantine. But the government said it would no longer discourage people from wearing masks in a reversal of its previous advice as public health officials globally rethink their stance due to the growing possibility of undetected coronavirus cases.

"We also now have evidence that an infected person can show no symptoms, and yet still pass on the virus to others," Lee said. The government will distribute reusable masks to all households from Sunday, while conserving surgical masks for healthcare workers.


TRENDING

OPINION / BLOG / INTERVIEW

Rethinking Rural Livelihoods in the Times of COVID-19

The reverse migration caused by COVID 19 pandemic has put an additional burden of about one crore people on Indian villages particularly in the states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Bengal and Odisha. Besides increasing the risk of spreading the ...

‘Discounted Deaths’ and COVID 19: Anthropology of Death and Emotions

Death is a social event rather than the mere cessation of biological functions. As seen by anthropologists, death is not just physical but intensely social, cultural, and political....

Indigenous knowledge of communities a must for maximizing impact of community work

Generally, it has been observed that the majority of the academicians in higher education institutions neglect the wisdom of community people and throw their weight around thinking that they know everything and the community knows nothing. ...

In rebuking FBR, Pakistan’s courts take a stand for public health

The system, if implemented effectively, will allow Pakistans revenue service to combat the illicit trade in tobacco products and potentially add hundreds of millions of dollars to the states budget each year. ...

Videos

Latest News

SpaceX, NASA set for landmark launch of two U.S. astronauts

Final preparations were underway as Elon Musks private rocket company SpaceX was set for a repeat attempt at launching two Americans into orbit for a mission that would be the first spaceflight of NASA astronauts from U.S. soil in nine year...

Mammoth coordination for Vande Bharat, 'elevated ties with US' among MEA's key achievements for first year of Modi 2.0

Coordinating Indias response to the coronavirus global pandemic tops the list of achievements of the MEA in the first year of the second term of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. According to the ministry, mammoth coordinating efforts led by In...

Montoya, Pagenaud ready for virtual 24 Hours of Le Mans

Indianapolis 500 winners Juan Pablo Montoya and Simon Pagenaud are set to compete in the virtual 24 Hours of Le Mans on June 13-14. Montoya and Pagenaud will join forces as part of a four-man team, with each lineup consisting of at least tw...

Iran berates U.S. over police killing, slams racism

Iran, always keen to score points against its longtime foe the United States, took Washington to task on Saturday over the killing of a black man in by a white police officer that has sparked angry protests over racial injustice. Some dont ...

Give Feedback