Singapore shuts schools as new Wuhan virus variant seen affecting children
19 May 2021
Singapore acted fast, shutting schools and tightening restrictions, following instances of fresh cases linked to more transmissible variants of the Wuhan virus, affecting children as well.
After India variant, the new Wuhan virus variant was seen affecting children in Singapore, prompting fresh curbs. Singapore acted proactively and decidedly against the outbreak, announcing a slew of fresh restrictions on Friday.
The announcements, including the suspension of the majority of in-person school classes, were made after experts suggested that the 17 cases identified on Sunday were an indication that there may be chains of transmission going unnoticed. Singapore's health minister also raised concerns over the new variants' apparent effect on younger children.
Education minister Chan Chun Sing, also on Sunday, said that several children had contracted the infection while noting that none had developed advanced symptoms. “This is an area of concern for all of us...The sharp rise in the number of community cases today requires us to significantly reduce our movements and interactions in the coming days. We are watching this very closely because we do not think it is a random thing that just happened in one day or so,” he said.
The return of lockdown-like restrictions in Singapore follows a trend of the new Wuhan virus variant hitting mostly growth economies to retard progress growth.
For Singapore, it also comes as a negation of a number of high-profile initiatives planned to highlight the country's handling of the virus
Experts say the 17 cases identified on Sunday were an indication of the presence of the more highly transmissible Wuhan virus variant first detected in India.
Among the 17 cases, six patients were within the age bracket of 29 and 57 years, each of whom tested positive with the B.1.617 strain, according to the latest data released by the country's health ministry. The 17 new cases took the country's caseload to 38 on Sunday, its highest in over a year and markedly up from the six cases Singapore had reported just a week before.
Besides the closure of schools, from 16 May to 13 June, gatherings, including household visits, will be limited to a maximum of two people, down from five. Temporary work-from-home models will also be reinstituted with food and beverage outfits now only allowed to do takeaways and deliveries.