COVID-19 emerges at Singapore’s prison, Pasir Ris shopping mall

Main entrance of Changi Prison. Photo: Google
Main entrance of Changi Prison. Photo: Google

The coronavirus has officially reached Singapore’s largest prison after it was detected in an employee and at least one inmate.

The Changi Prison Complex was one of two new outbreak locations announced last night, the other being the Wok Hey food kiosk at the WhiteSands shopping mall in Pasir Ris. They were disclosed in a COVID-19 update that included 49 new cases – most locally transmitted –  several of which came from new outbreaks. 

A 32-year-old Singaporean inmate, 39-year-old prison chef and two of his contacts – a 35-year-old cargo driver and unemployed Vietnamese 22-year-old – have been connected to the corrections facility. The Singapore Prison Service said Saturday that it was testing about 5,000 people for possible COVID-19 infection.  

At the Pasir Ris mall, the outbreak has affected three people including a 22-year-old cook. The virus spread to a family member and another person identified as a close contact.

With the addition of the two new clusters, there are now 15 different locations across Singapore where the virus has spread. Seventy-four people have taken ill due to the coronavirus spread at Changi Airport, and another 46 via the outbreak at Tan Tock Seng Hospital.

Although the numbers are relatively low compared to Singapore’s neighbors – Thailand reported nearly 10,000 new cases today on disclosure that another 7,000 prison inmates had taken ill – Singapore returned to partial lockdown last week by closing travel, limiting business activity and restricting social gatherings.

Another outbreak of growing concern is happening among tuition students. Eighteen cases have been linked to Learning Point at Parkway Centre, including primary school-aged children of 8 to 9. All primary and secondary schools, as well as junior colleges, were reverting to home-based learning Wednesday. 

Seventeen infections reported last night due to the local spread of the virus have not been traced to any existing clusters so far, which indicates that there could be more outbreaks.

Singapore has reported 170 locally transmitted cases since the start of this month, more than half of which were discovered in the past week. Since the outbreak began, 61,585 cases and 31 deaths have been recorded. 

Other stories:

No lesson learned: Singapore responds to COVID restrictions with immediate panic-buying (Photos)
Singapore cuts social gatherings to two, bans dining out

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