SINGAPORE - Singapore's health ministry on Sunday preliminarily confirmed 38 locally transmitted COVID-19 cases, the highest daily number since mid-September, as the city-state returned to the strictest curbs on gatherings since a coronavirus lockdown last year.
Singapore has reported more than 61,000 virus cases, with the bulk linked to outbreaks in foreign worker dormitories, and 31 deaths. While none of Sunday's new cases are in the dormitories, they are the highest number of local infections outside of the dormitories in a year.
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.
But cases have been increasing in recent weeks. The government, which is particularly concerned about a rise in unlinked cases, brought back strict restrictions on gatherings and public activities from Sunday.
Of the new cases, 18 are currently unlinked, the health ministry's preliminary report said.
Though Singapore's daily cases are only a fraction of the numbers being reported among its Southeast Asian neighbours, the rise in infections is a setback for the country, which had nearly all but eradicated the virus.
About a fifth of the country's population has completed its 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.
Education Minister Chan Chun Sing said on Saturday the government was working on plans to vaccinate children below 16 years once regulatory approval was granted.
(Reporting by Aradhana Aravindan in Singapore; Editing by Christopher Cushing) ((email@example.com;))