Singapore says it detected India’s ‘double mutant’ variant of Covid in community, tightening restrictions

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Shoppers wearing protective masks walk past the Ion Orchard Mall on Orchard Road in Singapore on Tuesday, April 13, 2021.

Lauryn Ishak | Bloomberg | Getty Images

SINGAPORE – Singapore said on Tuesday that the “double mutant” coronavirus variant first detected in India was found among locally transmitted cases in the city-state.

The B.1.617 variant is largely attributed to the second wave of infections in India, which saw the total number of cases exceed 20 million. The World Health Organization listed it as a variant of interest last week.

Singapore detected 10 local cases of the variant from India on Monday. Seven of those infections are in three active clusters, the country’s Covid task force said in a press release.

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“All necessary public health measures were taken quickly to isolate and contain all cases,” the health ministry said.

“In view of the possible increased transmissibility of new virus variants, there is a need for more stringent measures reflecting the heightened alert to mitigate the risk of further transmission in Singapore,” he added.

Strengthened Covid rules

Singapore has also announced tougher measures aimed at stemming the spread of the coronavirus in the city as local infections increase.

From Saturday, travelers arriving from high-risk countries will need to be quarantined for 21 days, up from 14 days previously.

Nationally, new restrictions will be imposed from Saturday to May 30. The measures include limits on the size of social gatherings, pre-event testing for large gatherings, and gym closures.

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The country reported five new locally transmitted cases on Tuesday, all linked to a cluster that started in a Singapore hospital. There were also 12 cases detected during mandatory quarantines for people entering the country from abroad.

On Monday, the health ministry said the number of new cases in the community had risen to 60 cases last week, from 10 cases the week before.

Details on local restrictions in effect on Saturday include:

  • Social gatherings will be limited to five, down from eight previously. Each household will also be able to receive five guests per day, instead of eight.
  • No more than 50% of employees are allowed to return to their workplace at any time, compared to 75%.
  • Pre-event testing will be required for some gatherings, including weddings, worship services, live performances, and lectures, depending on the number of attendees.
  • Indoor gymnasiums and fitness studios will be closed.
  • Museums, public libraries and attractions will operate at 50% of their capacity.
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The measures take the city a step back in its gradual reopening that began in June 2020. Singapore has reported a total of 61,235 confirmed cases since the start of the pandemic in the city-state of 5.7 million people.

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