People are sitting in a chair dedicated to social distancing during the Covid-19 pandemic in Singapore on March 19, 2021.
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Singapore urged its population to reduce social interactions and on Friday warned of tougher measures if coronavirus infections continue to rise, a day after the highest number of domestically transmitted cases was reported in about seven months.
It confirmed nine new local cases on Friday, up from 16 the previous day, including a growing cluster in a hospital.
While this is only a fraction of the number reported among Singapore’s Southeast Asian neighbors, a surge in infections would be a setback for the Asian business hub, which has successfully contained its previous outbreaks.
We need to be mentally prepared that if the situation does not improve and continues to deteriorate in the days ahead, we will not hesitate to take tougher action.
Health officials said Friday that the levels of social interactions should be reduced and more crowd control measures should be put in place over the next two weeks.
“We must be mentally prepared that if the situation does not improve and continues to deteriorate in the coming days, we will not hesitate to take tougher action,” said Lawrence Wong, a minister who heads the coronavirus task force in Singapore co-guides.
There are currently 13 cases related to Tan Tock Seng Hospital, including four staff who have been vaccinated but have had no or mild symptoms.
Authorities have isolated four wards of the hospital, banned visitors and conducted mass tests after the cluster, the first in a Singapore hospital.
The city-state has reported more than 61,000 Covid-19 cases since the pandemic last year, the vast majority of them in dormitories hosting low-wage foreign workers. There were 30 deaths recorded.
Most of the following cases were imported.
The Singapore vaccination program is well underway and uses vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna. It is on track to vaccinate its 5.7 million residents by the end of the year.