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Asia Minute: Singapore Starts 'Circuit Breakers' to Slow Spread of COVID-19

AP Photo/Ee Ming Toh

Throughout the global pandemic of COVID-19, many health experts have pointed to Singapore as a country that has taken many of the right steps to combat the spread of the virus.  Now, the country is ramping up a new series of restrictions.

Schools are closed in Singapore today. That’s unusual in recent history, because unlike many neighboring countries, Singapore had left its schools open during the recent spread of the novel coronavirus.

Last month, the Education Minister said closing them would be “a big disruption to people’s lives.” But that’s a tradeoff the government is now willing to make — part of what it calls a series of “circuit breakers” to slow the transmission of COVID-19.

Most workplaces are closed now, restaurants are down to take-out orders — although Time Out Singapore reports some bars are also offering “takeaway bottled cocktails.

Some of the measures started yesterday and they all last until at least May 5th.

Singapore took the steps quickly because of a recent rise in the cases of the virus related to community spread. On Sunday, Singapore reported a record 120 new cases, health officials say more than 95% of them were locally transmitted — not related to any travel.

More than a third of those new cases came from a series of clusters at dormitories for foreign workers.

This weekend, Singapore quarantined nearly 20,000 of those workers — restricting them to their dormitories for 14 days.

The country’s overall number of COVID-19 cases is approaching 1,500 — with half a dozen deaths.

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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