Photo used for illustrative purpose.
Singapore will shut most schools from Wednesday after the city-state reported the highest number of local COVID-19 infections in months, including several that were unlinked, according to authorities on Sunday.
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.
On Sunday, Singapore confirmed 38 locally transmitted COVID-19 cases, the highest daily number since mid-September, of which 18 are currently unlinked.
People queue to buy food as tables and chairs are cordoned off to prevent people from dining at a hawker food centre in Singapore. AFP
Singapore has reported more than 61,000 virus cases, with the bulk linked to outbreaks last year in foreign worker dormitories, and 31 deaths. Sunday's new cases were the highest number of local infections outside of the dormitories in a year.
"The sharp rise in the number of community cases today requires us to significantly reduce our movements and interactions in the coming days," Chan added.
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.
Students in the Swiss city of Basel falsified positive COVID-19 results in a bid to skip school, resulting in the entire class being put in quarantine, and now disciplinary measures against the perpetrators after the hoax was discovered.
"There is a rapid surge in the cases in some districts of Punjab, particularly Lahore, while the situation is the same in some area of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Azad Jammu & Kashmir," Education Minister Shafqat Mahmood said.
The guidebook, which is available on the DHA website, aims to provide parents with accurate, updated and reliable information on the best ways to keep themselves, families and communities safe. Dr Hend Al Awadhi stressed on parents, the importance of adhering to all health instructions issued by schools and detailed in the guidebook.
Education Minister Shafqat Mahmood said the federal government will formulate SOPs and share them with the provincial governments. He said the provincial governments will be authorised to close the institutions, which do not observe SOPs.
The Ministry stressed in a statement on Friday that its aim to continue expanding the scope of testing nationwide to facilitate the early detection of coronavirus cases and carry out the necessary treatment.
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