Singapore evaluates timing of reopening amid increase in new COVID-19 cases

Singapore is evaluating the timing and scope of the next stage of reopening of activity, amid an increase in the number of new COVID-19 cases and the emergence of a virus cluster, a senior minister said on Wednesday,
Singapore evaluates timing of reopening amid increase in new COVID-19 cases
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"We are now at Stage I of our reopening. Stage II is scheduled next Monday (June 21). Unfortunately we now have new cases breaking out and a major new cluster in Bukit Merah (housing estate)," Finance Minister Lawrence Wong said in a Facebook post.
"Given these developments, we are evaluating the timing and scope of the next stage of reopening. The MTF (Multi-Ministry Task Force on COVID-19) is studying the situation carefully with public health experts and will provide further updates soon," he said.
As of Tuesday, the COVID-19 cluster at Bukit Merah View Market and Food Centre consisted of 25 cases, according to a Channel News Asia report.
Wong said that the new COVID-19 cases in Bukit Merah are "breaking out not only in the market and the hawker (food) centre, but also, all around the vicinity".
"And day by day, we are seeing the number of unlinked cases -- the cryptic cases in the community -- are likely to be rising too," he said.
The market, which was slated to reopen on Wednesday after being closed since Sunday, will now be shut for two weeks until June 26.
The Ministry of Health (MOH) said that the detection of more cases among employees at the market and their close contacts suggests there is "ongoing spread with wider transmission".
All staff and tenants who had been working at the market from May 25 were placed on quarantine, and will be tested during quarantine.
Stallholders at Redhill Market and Food Centre, which is a short walk away from Bukit Merah View Market and Food Centre, will undergo mandatory swab tests after a COVID-19 case recently visited the market.
"I know this is a difficult time for everyone," the Channel quoted Wong as saying.
"I want to assure all of you that we are doing our very best to control the infection and we want to ensure that we do not have another flare-up before we reach sufficiently high levels of vaccination in our community," he said.
Singapore had planned to ease restrictions in two stages, following a steady drop in the number of COVID-19 cases in the community.
From Monday (June 14), people were able to gather in groups of up to five. Should the situation remain under control, further relaxation of the rules - including permitting dining in at food and beverage outlets - may take place a week later, on June 21.
Dining-in at food and beverage outlets is currently banned as part of Phase 3 (Heightened Alert) and was scheduled to resume on Jun 21, provided the COVID-19 situation remained under control.
Meanwhile, Singapore reported 19 new COVID-19 cases in the community areas as of noon on Wednesday while five were imported cases.
As of Wednesday, Singapore has reported a total of 62,339 COVID-19 cases. Thirty-four people have died from COVID-19 complications.

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