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Singapore to shut schools from tomorrow over rise in COVID-19 cases

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SINGAPORE has shut schools over rising COVID-19 cases linked to variant first found in India after the city-state reported the highest number of local COVID-19 infections in months, including several that were unlinked.

  All primary, secondary and junior colleges will shift to full home-based learning from Wednesday (May 19) until the end of the school term on May 28.

  “Some of these (virus) mutations are much more virulent, and they seem to attack the younger children,” said Education Minister Chan Chun Sing.

shift to full home-based learning from Wednesday until the end of the school term on May 28.

  The announcement came after Singapore confirmed 38 locally transmitted coronavirus cases, the highest daily count in eight months. Some of the cases involved children linked to a cluster at a tuition centre.

  Health Minister Ong Ye Kung, citing a conversation he had with the ministry’s director of medical services Kenneth Mak, said Sunday that the B.1.617 strain, first detected in India, “appears to affect children more”.

  “Some of these mutations are much more virulent and they seem to attack the younger children,” Education Minister Chan Chun Sing said.

  “This is an area of concern for all of us,” he said, adding that none of the infected children was seriously ill.

  The government is “working out the plans” to vaccinate students under the age of 16, Chan said in a Facebook post.

  The Asian trade and financial hub of 5.7 million people had until recently been reporting almost zero or single-digit daily infections locally for months.

  Though Singapore’s daily cases are still only a fraction of the numbers being reported among its Southeast Asian neighbours, infections have been increasing in recent weeks. From Sunday, the government implemented its strictest curbs on gatherings and public activities since a lockdown last year.

  Over a fifth of the country’s population has completed the two-dose vaccination regimen with vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech , and Moderna. Authorities will invite people under 45 years of age to receive shots from the second half of May.

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