Singapore, Japan cases jump, US sailors in Guam hospital

Apr 14, 2020

Singapore has reported its biggest daily jump in new coronavirus infections

BANGKOK (AP) — Singapore has reported its biggest daily jump in new coronavirus infections, most of them linked to foreign workers living in crowded dormitories.

Foreigners account for over a third of Singapore’s workforce, many of them people from poorer Asian countries working in construction, shipping and maintenance jobs that support Singapore’s trade-reliant economy.

Over 200,000 Asian migrant workers live in 43 registered dormitories that house up to 20 men per room, with shared toilets, cooking and other facilities.

The 386 newly confirmed cases raise Singapore's tally to 2,918. Health authorities also reported a ninth death in a statement late Monday.

The tiny city state of nearly 6 million people has shut down nonessential businesses and schools until May 4 in a partial lockdown to try to halt the spread of the new coronavirus. Tens of thousands of foreign workers are quarantined in their dorms and some were moved elsewhere to reduce crowding.

Environment and Water Resources Minister Masagos Zulkifli wrote on Facebook late Monday that the remaining three weeks of the partial lockdown will be “a critical window that will determine if we can successfully flatten the curve, prevent large-scale community spread, and save our loved ones."

In other developments in the Asia-Pacific region:

— ASEAN MEETS ON VIDEO: Southeast Asian leaders linked up by video to plot their moves against the virus that threatens their economies and binds millions of people in their homes under lockdowns. Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc said in an opening speech that containment efforts were working but warned against complacency.

— U.S. SAILOR DIES: Four infected crew members from the USS Theodore Roosevelt are hospitalized in Guam, after the Navy said a U.S. sailor from the aircraft carrier died of the disease. The sailor who died was among 585 crew members who have tested positive; the remainder are quarantined at hotels in the U.S. territory or attending to the ship’s nuclear reactors and other sensitive systems.

— JAPAN'S CASE RISE: Japan's health ministry reported 390 new cases of infection for a domestic total of 7,645. The country was put under a state of emergency last week, but many people were still seen queuing up at grocery stores and crowding shopping arcades in parts of downtown Tokyo to stock up on necessities.

— IMF CANCELS DEBT PAYMENTS: The International Monetary Fund approved $500 million to cancel six months of debt payments for 25 of the world’s most impoverished countries so they can tackle the pandemic. The immediate debt service relief applies to Afghanistan, Nepal, Solomon Islands, Tajikistan and 21 other countries.

— UN STOPS ROTATIONS OF PEACEKEEPERS: The United Nations has suspended the deployment and rotation of U.N. peacekeeping troops until June 30. U.N. peacekeeping chief Jean-Pierre Lacroix said: “We don’t want to be part of the problem.” There are exceptions in the guidance, but quarantines will apply for any new deployments.

— DECLINES IN SOUTH KOREA, CHINA: South Korea reported 27 fresh cases as infections continued to wane in the worst-hit city of Daegu and nearby towns. South Korea’s totals are 10,564 infections and 222 virus-related deaths. China reported 89 new virus cases, 86 of them among travelers arriving from abroad, but no new deaths. It has confirmed 3,341 deaths out of 82,249 official cases of infections.

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