SINGAPORE: Singapore on Saturday reported 618 new cases of novel coronavirus, taking the total number of infections to 12,693 with 12 deaths in the country, media reports said.
The vast majority of the new cases are among the work permit holders residing in dormitories for foreign workers, including Indian nationals, who work in the labour intensive construction sector.
A total of 25 dormitories, housing foreign workers, have been gazetted as isolation areas. Singapore is going through a "circuit breaker" period to stem the spread of COVID-19.
The period was at first scheduled to end on May 4 but will now last until June 1. All the non-essential work places have been ordered to stay closed and residents are barred from leaving the house except to buy food and groceries or to exercise alone in the neighbourhood, Channel News Asia reported.
The COVID-19 has so far infected more than 2.7 million people and killed over 190,000 globally. The US is the worst hit with over 51,000 deaths and more than 905,000 cases, according to Johns Hopkins University.
In Singapore, the total number of cases are 12,693 with 12 deaths due to the deadly infection, The Straits Times reported.
Meanwhile, Singapore has changed the dynamics of its care of COVID-19 patients by treating nine out of 10 in community isolation facilities instead of acute hospitals.
The move not only differentiates those with mild illnesses from others with life-threatening conditions, but also saves the hospitals from being deluged, the paper reported. Community facilities now house 9,878 patients - out of the current patients.
Health experts said that placing the coronavirus-infected patients in isolation facilities will prevent acute hospital beds from being unnecessarily filled by relatively well COVID-19 patients, who would otherwise be discharged only when doctors are certain that they are no longer able to infect others.
"The strategy of moving patients who are well out of hospitals has been applied for some time, even before the first isolation facility became operational on March 24," Hsu Li Yang, an expert on infectious diseases, said.
"We have learnt that for many patients, particularly those who are young and have no chronic medical conditions, COVID-19 is no worse than an ordinary flu," said Hsu, who leads the infectious diseases programme at the National University of Singapore's Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health.