Singapore plans to close most classes at school this week and move on to learning at home, as an increase in unrelated cases represents the biggest challenge since last year for the city’s efforts to fight the pandemic.
All elementary, high school, junior and Millennia Institute students will start studying at home from May 19 until the end of the school term on May 28, the Ministry of Education said in a statement on Sunday. Preschools and day care centers remain open to support parents who need to work.
“Some of these mutations are much more virulent and appear to attack younger children,” Chan Chun Sing, the new education minister, told a news conference. “We have to significantly reduce our movement and interactions in the next few days.”
The country reported 38 new cases of Covid-19 infection in the community on Sunday, said the health ministry, the highest number in more than a year. This includes 18 currently unrelated cases, which is of more concern to the authorities, as it signals an undetected spread in the community.
Schools will remain open to students who need more support, while all centralized tuition and enrichment classes must move online activities until the end of the so-called intensified alert period that is expected to last until June 13, according to the communicated. This is to cut the mix of students from different schools. At least 10 children tested positive for coronavirus in the past week.
The Southeast Asian nation on Sunday returned to the blocking conditions it last imposed a year ago. The government banned dinners and limited meetings to two people because of an increase in the number of non-traceable virus infections. Singapore was one of the world’s success stories in containing Covid.
Vaccination for children
Singapore plans to vaccinate children under 16 after a recent spike in Covid-19 infections among students in the island state, Chan said earlier.
Ministries of education and health are drawing up plans for “vaccinating our students,” wrote Chan on his Facebook page. “As soon as approval for use is granted, we will implement vaccines for children under 16 years of age.”
US health regulators have approved the use of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for children aged 12 to 15, paving the way for other nations to inoculate younger people. Pfizer-BioNTech is among the vaccines approved by the Singapore government.
During the briefing, the new health minister Ong Ye Kung also said that the government is considering postponing the second vaccination to give more people at least one dose of the vaccine.
“Many international studies have been carried out and this shows that, even with a dose, it provides good protection without compromising effectiveness,” said Ong. “Our scientists are studying this.”
‘Covid Zero’ Havens find reopening more difficult than taming the virus
In a post on his Facebook page on Sunday, Ho Ching, wife of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, encouraged the elderly to get vaccinated, even citing a shortage in vaccines.
“Yes, our vaccine deliveries are slow this month and possibly the next 1-2 months,” said Ho, who is also the chief executive officer of Temasek Holdings Pte, a Singapore state investor. Until October.
This story was published from a wire agency feed with no text changes.
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