Singapore confirms sixth coronavirus death as infections rise

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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - Singapore announced a sixth death and new clusters of coronavirus cases on Saturday as cases resurge following initial signs of containment.

Singapore health authorities said an elderly man with no recent travel history to affected countries died early Saturday, marking the sixth fatality for the city-state, according to an emailed statement.

The nation’s Ministry of Health said the 88-year-old male permanent resident, who was admitted to intensive care on March 30, passed away after developing serious complications. The man had a history of heart and kidney disease.

On Friday, health authorities confirmed 65 new cases of Covid-19 infections, with a new cluster at the Singapore Cricket Club.

The government will close most of its workplaces, except for essential services and key economic sectors, and will shut schools, its prime minister Lee Hsien Loong said on Friday, as part of tighter measures to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

He said people should avoid socialising with others beyond their own households and go out only to do essential things, such as buy food at markets.

Initially held up as a role model for its battle against coronavirus, city-state Singapore is struggling with an infection spread that disease experts say bodes ill for global containment efforts.

The tiny Southeast Asian nation was one of the worst hit countries when the virus first spread from China in January, but a strict surveillance and quarantine regime helped stem the tide, with methods that drew praise from the World Health Organisation.

As the virus later formed new hotspots in Europe and the United States, infecting nearly one million people globally, the trading and travel hub closed its borders.

Guarding against the virus in Singapore is easier than in most places. The island of 5.7 million people takes less than an hour to drive across, has a handful of international entry points and a strong healthcare system.

But the city-state's containment measures are showing signs of strain.

On Wednesday, Singapore reported its biggest daily jump in coronavirus cases, up 74 to 1,000 infections.

More than 70 per cent of those were domestic as opposed to imported, and many were not linked to previous cases, a gauge of how far the disease is spreading in the community.

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Experts say the breaches of Singapore's defences show how difficult it will be to curb the coronavirus spread elsewhere.

"Singapore's approach has been by far one of the very best," said Michael Osterholm, an infectious disease expert at the University of Minnesota.

"What they are really showing the rest of the world is that this is just a difficult virus to beat back and keep down."

Singapore's top medical authority Kenneth Mak said this week that the rising caseload was "cause for concern" and that they would closely monitor the trend over the coming weeks to assess whether intensified prevention measures were working.

Updated: April 4, 2020 05:03 PM

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