COVID UPDATE: Singapore to ease lockdown; SoKor cases continue to wane

May 2, 2020
Passengers wait for their trains at the Seoul Railway Station on Saturday.
PHOTO: AP

BANGKOK — Singapore will let selected businesses reopen from May 12 in a cautious rollback of a two-month partial lockdown despite rising coronavirus infections among foreign workers.

On Saturday, the city-state reported 447 new cases to take its total to 17,548. About 85% of the confirmed infections are linked to foreign workers living in crowded dormitories.

The Health Ministry said the daily infections among Singaporeans have dropped by more than half to 12 in the past week. Cases with unknown sources of infection have also fallen to an average of six a day.

The ministry said restrictions will be eased cautiously and gradually to avoid a flareup of new infections.

Selected activities such as home-based businesses, food manufacturing, food retail outlets, laundry services, barbers and pet supplies can reopen from May 12. Small groups of students will be allowed back to school from May 19.

A gradual reopening of the economy and work premises will be phased in, with strict health rules including a digital mobile app to speed up contact tracing, the ministry said. Other lockdown measures remain, including confining more than 300,000 migrant workers in their dorms until the lockdown period ends June 1.

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In other developments around the Asia-Pacific region:

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6 NEW CASES IN SOUTH KOREA: South Korea on Saturday reported six fresh cases of the coronavirus, continuing a monthlong streak of below 100, as infections continue to wane in the hardest-hit city of Daegu. Figures released by South Korea's Centers for Disease Control and Prevention brought national figures to 10,780 confirmed cases and 250 virus-related deaths. At least 1,081 cases have been linked to international arrivals, but these have also declined in recent weeks as the government strengthened border controls, such as enforcing 14-day quarantines on all overseas passengers. Health authorities still raise concern about a broader "quiet spread" and are planning antibody tests to learn how widespread the virus is.

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People at a public park in Beijing on Saturday.

CHINA REPORTS SINGLE INFECTION: China, where the pandemic began in December, reported one new infection and no deaths in the 24 hours through midnight Friday. The country has reported a total of 82,875 confirmed cases and 4,633 deaths. The National Health Commission reported 43 people were released from hospitals Friday after being declared recovered, raising the total to 77,685. There were a total 557 people still hospitalized on the mainland.

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    Passengers wait for their trains at the Seoul Railway Station on Saturday.
    PHOTO: AP
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