ANKARA

As the original epicenter of coronavirus or COVID-19 pandemic Hubei province in China has been declared infection-free, the city-state and island country Singapore is emerging a new hot-spot in Asia.

According to the US-based Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Centre, Singapore has so far reported 14,423 infections with 12 deaths.

The country confirmed an additional 799 cases of COVID-19 in the past 24-hours. The authorities have conducted 121,774 tests to detect infected patients.

Health Ministry of island nation confirmed that most of the fresh cases are foreign workers. On Sunday, Singapore had reported 931 new cases.

The country with a population of 5.85 million, boasting a vibrant economy and health care system, has exceeded infected cases in Japan.

In terms of the ratio of infected people and its tiny population, the island nation has emerged a new hotspot of the pandemic in the region.

The ministry said that number of new cases had decreased from an average of 31 cases per day in the week to an average of 21 per day in the past week.

“The number of new cases amongst work permit holders residing outside dormitories is increasing, from an earlier average of 20 cases per day to 26 per cases per day in the past week,” said the health ministry data.

Over 1.6 million foreigners are residing in Singapore, of whom nearly 41% hold work permits.

Singapore is already observing a lockdown with educational institutions, and most of the offices closed to stem the spread of COVID-19.

The authorities have linked the spike in the cases to work permit holders residing in dormitories. Health officials have found clusters of coronavirus cases in these dormitories pushing the number of cases every day.

“We are picking up many more cases [in dormitories] because of extensive testing. Most of these cases have a mild illness and are being monitored in the community isolation facilities or general ward of our hospitals. None of them is in the intensive care unit,” said the ministry.

Virtual marriages in the offing

Singapore’s Minister for Social and Family Development Desmond Lee announced that his ministry will table a bill in parliament on May 4 to permit virtual marriages.

“The ongoing pandemic has caused many couples to be anxious about their marriage plans. During the circuit breaker period, marriage solemnizations for civil and Muslim marriages have had to be postponed since solemnizations need to be conducted physically,” said Lee in a social media post.

“We should not let COVID-19 hold back those who are ready to start a new life together.

“We will, therefore, introduce a bill at the next parliament sitting on May 4 to enable civil and Muslim marriages to be solemnized remotely using technology, without the need for them to be present… or in the physical presence of a marriage solemnizer and witnesses,” he added.

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