Shoppers wearing protective masks walk past Ion Orchard Mall on Orchard Road in Singapore on Tuesday April 13, 2021.
Lauryn Ishak | Bloomberg | Getty Images
SINGAPORE – Singapore said Tuesday that the ‘double mutant’ coronavirus variant, first discovered in India, was found among locally transmitted cases in the city-state.
The variant B.1.617 is widely held responsible for the second wave of infections in India, in which the total number of cases has risen to over 20 million. The World Health Organization listed it as an interesting variant last week.
As of Monday, Singapore had discovered 10 local cases of the variant from India. Seven of these infections are in three active clusters, the country’s Covid Task Force said in a press release.
“All necessary public health measures were promptly taken to isolate and repel all cases,” said the Ministry of Health.
“Given the potential for increased transmittability of the new virus variants, stricter measures need to be taken, reflecting the increased warning, to reduce the risk of further transmission in Singapore,” he added.
Increased Covid rules
Singapore also announced stricter measures to contain the spread of the coronavirus in the city as local infections rise.
From Saturday, travelers from higher risk countries must be quarantined for 21 days, compared to 14 days earlier.
Domestically, new restrictions will be imposed from Saturday to May 30th. Measures include limiting the size of social gatherings, pre-event testing for large gatherings, and closing gyms.
The country reported five new locally transmitted cases on Tuesday, all of which are linked to a cluster that began at a Singapore hospital. 12 cases have also been identified during mandatory quarantine for people entering the country from overseas.
On Monday, the Ministry of Health announced that the number of new cases in the community had increased from 10 cases in the previous week to 60 in the past week.
Local restrictions that apply on Saturday include:
- The number of social gatherings is to be limited to five, compared to eight previously. Each household can receive five guests a day instead of eight.
- Of 75%, more than 50% of employees are not allowed to return to their workplace at any point in time.
- Depending on the number of attendees, certain gatherings, including weddings, church services, live performances, and conferences, may require pre-event testing.
- Indoor gyms and fitness studios are closed.
- Museums, public libraries and attractions are 50% busy.
These measures take the city a step back in its gradual reopening, which began in June 2020. Singapore has reported a total of 61,235 confirmed cases since the pandemic began in the city-state of 5.7 million people on May 3.