Women pose during a photoshoot outside The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands in Singapore on April 2 as the government slowly tightens restrictions to combat the spread of the coronavirus. (Photo: Roshan Rahman/AFP)
A home for the elderly in Singapore has become a new cluster of Covid-19 infections, with the city-state reporting new cases that take its total to 1,000.Authorities identified two new clusters — the Lee Ah Mooi Old Age Home and a workers' dormitory — raising fears that the virus may have entered the third phase of community spread.
Singapore authorities on April 1 confirmed 74 new Covid-19 cases, the country's highest daily increase to date. Of this, 54 were local cases with no recent travel history.Officials said the Lee Ah Mooi Old Age Home had become a new cluster with 11 infections. They include a 102-year-old woman and a 42-year-old manThe elderly and infirm are likely to develop complications from the infection, according to the World Health Organization.
The city-state, which was believed to have checked the spread of coronavirus, reported its fourth death from Covid-19 on April 2. The victim was a 68-year-old Indonesian working in the city.The tiny state of 5.7 million people reported its first coronavirus deaths on March 21 — a 75-year-old Singaporean woman and a 64-year-old Indonesian man. On March 29, a 70-year-old Singaporean man became the third victim to die due to coronavirus.Health ministry officials are working to provide the Lee Ah Mooi Old Age Home with workforce support to ensure service continuity "so that its residents will not be affected," said an official statement. At least three cases were associated with public healthcare workers — a clinical research coordinator, a nurse and a doctor, the ministry said on April 1.It said 24 people are in critical condition in intensive care units, while 291 cases are isolated. The rest are under observation.
The economy of Singapore, the region's financial hub, has suffered since the pandemic forced the government to place restrictions on transport and public activities.The ministry of trade and industry in a March 19 statement said that Singapore's economy would shrink by 1-4 percent this year.
The ministry said the downgrade was due to the "sharp deterioration in the external and domestic economic environment since February."
The National Wages Council has released a guideline asking companies to reduce non-wage costs and turn to government support, and to retrench staff only as a last resort.
The slowdown in the economy has seen a surge in queries on employee rights and employer obligations with law firms. Some law firms have seen a hike in "non-stop inquiries" from employers and employees by 50 percent, media reports said.
Meanwhile, in South Korea, the Archdiocese of Seoul announced on April 2 that it is extending its suspension of all public Masses until further notice, reversing its decision on March 25 to resume public Masses in time for schools reopening on April 6.
The archdiocese has 232 churches and chapels under its jurisdiction.
Holy Week liturgies and Easter Sunday Mass will be attended only by a small group of diocesan priests without the faithful present.
The Catholic Peace Broadcasting Corporation will broadcast Holy Week liturgies live on TV as well as on YouTube.