SINGAPORE has been hit by a second wave of the coronavirus having previously been touted as a model for other countries in its handling of the outbreak.
The country, which has a population of only six million, registered 198 new cases today after yesterday reporting 287 – its biggest daily jump so far.
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The country has seen 2,108 cases and seven deaths since registering its first case of coronavirus on January 23, earlier than many countries in Europe.
Its early, swift response to the virus led to its strategy being seen as a potential model for other countries, but it is now seeing cases begin to climb.
The virus is thought to be spreading fastest among the hundreds of thousands of migrant workers living in crowded dormitories where it is not possible to practice social distancing.
The issue is of broader concern because a number of countries in the region have large communities of migrant workers living and commuting at close quarters.
In Singapore, migrants account for over a third of the workforce, with over 200,000 from Pakistan, Bangladesh, and other lower-income countries living in 43 registered dormitories across the country.
Most work in construction, shipping, and maintenance jobs, helping to support the city state's trade-reliant economy.
Clusters of people testing positive for the virus have emerged in nine of the dorms.
'NEED TO BREAK THE CIRCUIT'
More than 50,000 are now being quarantined, while others are being moved to safer locations.
Some are being moved to segregated facilities at army camps, where they will be required to observe strict health measures, stagger their meal times, and practice social distancing.
Others are to be moved into unoccupied housing estates, an exhibition centre, and other locations to help reduce crowding.
Those being quarantined are staying at five dormitories that have been declared isolation areas and are being sanitised daily.
Workers are reportedly being screened and tested as well as being paid wages and provided with food and other essentials.
Hsu Li Yang, an associate professor and program leader for Infectious Diseases at the National University of Singapore, said: "The important matter at hand is to swiftly disrupt the chains of transmission in the dormitories, as well as in the rest of Singapore."
Authorities have also tightened precautions with a four-week so-called "circuit breaker", shutting down non-essential businesses and schools until May 4.
The coronavirus had infected more than 1.6 million people and killed at least 101,000 since breaking out in December.
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