Singapore reports 23rd Covid-19 death, compulsory return to schools on June 2

SINGAPORE, 22 May 2020:

Singapore, which announced 910 discharged cases of Covid-19 yesterday, reported another death, bringing the number of fatalities to 23.

The republic’s Ministry of Health (MoH) said in a statement the latest death case involved a 73 year-old male Singaporean who died at the National Centre for Infectious Diseases.

Identified as Case 4,689, the victim was confirmed to have Covid-19 infection on April 17, and had a history of hypertension, hyperlipidaemia and hypothyroidism. Singapore reported its first two Covid-19 deaths on March 21.

There are currently 901 confirmed cases who are still undergoing treatment in hospital, and of these, most are stable or improving while 10 are in critical condition in the intensive care unit, said the ministry.

Meanwhile, 16,771 cases with mild symptoms, or are clinically well but still tested positive for Covid-19 have been isolated and cared for at community facilities.

The republic has earlier today confirmed and verified an additional 448 cases of Covid-19 infection, bringing the total tally to 29,812.

Meanwhile, education minister Ong Ye Kung said attending school is compulsory for students when schools reopen on June 2 as Singapore exits its Covid-19 circuit breaker period.

He said in a post on his Facebook page that unless there are specific concerns arising from medical conditions, his ministry cannot make attending school voluntary.

Ong was addressing some of the concerns of parents as schools are set to resume in two phases, amid a handful of community Covid-19 infections daily.

For the first phase, which is set to last a few weeks, primary and secondary students from graduating cohorts – Primary 6, Secondary 4 and 5 – will attend school from Mondays to Fridays. Students from other cohorts – Primary 1 to 5 and Secondary 1 to 3 – will rotate weekly between home-based learning (HBL) and returning to school for lessons.

In Phase 2, in tandem with the broader easing at the national level, possibly in a few weeks’ time, all students will return to school from Mondays to Fridays.

Addressing some parents’ concerns that they don’t feel safe sending their children back to school, Ong gave three reasons why attending school is compulsory for students from 2 June.

“First, it is likely that Covid-19 will stay with us for more than a year, and until a vaccine is available. We simply cannot keep our children at home for so long.

“The impact on their socio-emotional and mental well-being will be serious. Having brought community transmission to a low and controlled level, we should resume school, reclaim a sense of normalcy, while taking many precautions.

“Second, a voluntary system for parents is not good for the morale of both students and teachers. It segregates students into those whose families are able to provide care at home, and those who can’t. Teachers will end up having to juggle between classroom teaching and facilitating HBL for every lesson, which is not sustainable.

“Lastly, keeping our children away from school does not guarantee that they will be safe from Covid-19 either. Family members have to go to work, and a large proportion of transmission to children has been from their family members.”

Ong also addressed two other major concerns in his Facebook post. For young children who may have problems wearing a face masks for the whole day at school, Ong said they can wear either a face mask or a face shield when in school or on campus.

“Schools will be arranging to distribute face shields to all pre-school and primary school students in Term 3,” he said. “Teachers will help the young children get used to the masks or shields with time. If there are special circumstances, teachers will also exercise flexibility.”

– Bernama