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Airborne coronavirus: What you should know

NEW YORK (NYTIMES) – The coronavirus can stay aloft for hours in tiny droplets in stagnant air, infecting people as they inhale, mounting scientific evidence suggests.

This risk is highest in crowded indoor spaces with poor ventilation, and may help explain superspreading events reported in meatpacking plants, churches and restaurants.

It’s unclear how often the virus is spread via these tiny droplets, or aerosols, compared with larger droplets that are expelled when a sick person coughs or sneezes, or transmitted through contact with contaminated surfaces, said Dr Linsey Marr, an aerosol expert at Virginia Tech.

Aerosols are released even when a person without symptoms exhales, talks or sings, according to Dr Marr and more than 200 other experts, who have outlined the evidence in an open letter to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

What is clear, they said, is that people should consider minimising time indoors with people outside their families. Schools, nursing homes and businesses should consider adding powerful new air filters and ultraviolet lights that can kill airborne viruses.

Here are answers to a few questions raised by the latest research.

WHAT DOES IT MEAN FOR A VIRUS TO BE AIRBORNE?

For a virus to be airborne means that it can be carried through the air in a viable form. For most pathogens, this is a yes-no scenario. HIV, too delicate to survive outside the body, is not airborne. Measles is airborne, and dangerously so: It can survive in the air for up to two hours.

For the coronavirus, the definition has been more complicated. Experts agree that the virus does not travel long distances or remain viable outdoors. But evidence suggests it can traverse the length of a room and, in one set of experimental conditions, remain viable for perhaps three hours.

HOW ARE AEROSOLS DIFFERENT FROM DROPLETS?

Aerosols are droplets, droplets are aerosols – they do not differ except in size. Scientists sometimes refer to droplets fewer than 5 microns in diameter as aerosols. (By comparison, a red blood cell is about 5 microns in diameter; a human hair is about 50 microns wide.)

From the start of the pandemic, the WHO and other public health organisations have focused on the virus’s ability to spread through large droplets that are expelled when a symptomatic person coughs or sneezes.

These droplets are heavy, relatively speaking, and fall quickly to the floor or onto a surface that others might touch. This is why public health agencies have recommended maintaining a distance of at least 6 feet from others, and frequent hand washing.

But some experts have said for months that infected people also are releasing aerosols when they cough and sneeze. More important, they expel aerosols even when they breathe, talk or sing, especially with some exertion.

Scientists know now that people can spread the virus even in the absence of symptoms – without coughing or sneezing – and aerosols might explain that phenomenon.

Because aerosols are smaller, they contain much less virus than droplets do. But because they are lighter, they can linger in the air for hours, especially in the absence of fresh air. In a crowded indoor space, a single infected person can release enough aerosolised virus over time to infect many people, perhaps seeding a superspreader event.

For droplets to be responsible for that kind of spread, a single person would have to be within a few feet of all the other people, or to have contaminated an object that everyone else touched. All that seems unlikely to many experts.

“I have to do too many mental gymnastics to explain those other routes of transmission compared to aerosol transmission, which is much simpler,” Dr Marr said.

CAN I STOP WORRYING ABOUT PHYSICAL DISTANCING AND WASHING MY HANDS?

Physical distancing is still very important. The closer you are to an infected person, the more aerosols and droplets you may be exposed to. Washing your hands often is still a good idea.

What’s new is that those two things may not be enough.

“We should be placing as much emphasis on masks and ventilation as we do with hand washing,” Dr Marr said. “As far as we can tell, this is equally important, if not more important.”

SHOULD I BEGIN WEARING A HOSPITAL-GRADE MASK INDOORS? AND HOW LONG IS TOO LONG TO STAY INDOORS?

Health care workers may all need to wear N95 masks, which filter out most aerosols. At the moment, they are advised to do so only when engaged in certain medical procedures that are thought to produce aerosols.

For the rest of us, cloth face masks will still greatly reduce risk, as long as most people wear them. At home, when you’re with your own family or with roommates you know to be careful, masks are still not necessary. But it is a good idea to wear them in other indoor spaces, experts said.

As for how long is safe, that is frustratingly tough to answer. A lot depends on whether the room is too crowded to allow for a safe distance from others and whether there is fresh air circulating through the room.

WHAT DOES AIRBORNE TRANSMISSION MEAN FOR REOPENING SCHOOLS AND COLLEGES?

This is a matter of intense debate. Many schools are poorly ventilated and are too poorly funded to invest in new filtration systems.

“There is a huge vulnerability to infection transmission via aerosols in schools,” said Dr Don Milton, an aerosol expert at the University of Maryland.

Most children younger than 12 seem to have only mild symptoms, if any, so elementary schools may get by.

“So far, we don’t have evidence that elementary schools will be a problem, but the upper grades, I think, would be more likely to be a problem,” Dr Milton said.

College dorms and classrooms are also cause for concern.

Milton said the government should think of long-term solutions for these problems. Having public schools closed “clogs up the whole economy, and it’s a major vulnerability”, he said.

“Until we understand how this is part of our national defence, and fund it appropriately, we’re going to remain extremely vulnerable to these kinds of biological threats.”

WHAT ARE SOME THINGS I CAN DO TO MINIMISE THE RISKS?

Do as much as you can outdoors. Despite the many photos of people at beaches, even a somewhat crowded beach, especially on a breezy day, is likely to be safer than a pub or an indoor restaurant with recycled air.

But even outdoors, wear a mask if you are likely to be close to others for an extended period.

When indoors, one simple thing people can do is to “open their windows and doors whenever possible”, Dr Marr said. You can also upgrade the filters in your home air-conditioning systems, or adjust the settings to use more outdoor air rather than recirculated air.

Public buildings and businesses may want to invest in air purifiers and ultraviolet lights that can kill the virus. Despite their reputation, elevators may not be a big risk, Dr Milton said, compared with public bathrooms or offices with stagnant air where you may spend a long time.

If none of those things are possible, try to minimise the time you spend in an indoor space, especially without a mask. The longer you spend inside, the greater the dose of virus you might inhale.

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Japan supercomputer suggests changes to travel, work amid airborne virus threat

TOKYO (REUTERS) – Supercomputer-driven models simulated in Japan suggested that operating commuter trains with windows open and limiting the number of passengers may help reduce the risk of coronavirus infections, as scientists warn of airborne spread of the virus.

In an open letter published on Monday (July 6), 239 scientists in 32 countries outlined evidence that they say shows floating virus particles can infect people who breathe them in.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) acknowledged ‘evidence emerging’ of airborne transmission, but said it was not definitive.

Even if the coronavirus is airborne, questions remain about how many infections occur through that route.

How concentrated the virus is in the air may also decide contagion risks, said Kyoto University professor Yuki Furuse.

In the open letter, scientists urged improvements to ventilation and the avoidance of crowded, enclosed environments, recommendations that Shin-ichi Tanabe, one of the co-authors of the letter, says Japan broadly adopted months ago.

“In Japan, the committee for Covid-19 countermeasures insisted on the 3Cs at an early stage,” said Dr Tanabe, who is also a professor at Waseda University in Tokyo.

He was referring to Japan’s public campaign to avoid ‘Closed spaces, Crowded places and Close-contact settings.’

“This is ahead of the world.”

As Japan tamed the pandemic, with more than 19,000 confirmed cases and 977 deaths so far, Economy Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura credited its success to the 3Cs and its cluster-tracing strategy.

The recent study by Japanese research giant Riken using the world’s fastest supercomputer, the Fugaku, to simulate how the virus travels in the air in various environments advised several ways to lower infection risks in public settings.

Its lead researcher, Makoto Tsubokura, said that opening windows on commuter trains can increase the ventilation by two to three times, lowering the concentration of ambient microbes.

But to achieve adequate ventilation, there needs to be spaces between passengers, the simulations showed, representing a drastic change from Japan’s notoriously packed commuter trains.

Other findings advised the installation of partitions in offices and classrooms, while in hospitals, beds should be surrounded by curtains that touch the ceiling.

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Digital tools help speed up contact tracing efforts to ring-fence cases

Contact tracers with the Ministry of Health (MOH) often face numerous stumbling blocks in the race against time to map out a patient’s past activities, as they struggle to get information out of forgetful and sometimes severely ill patients in the process.

But this process has been sped up with the introduction of national check-in system SafeEntry in April.

Contact tracers now use SafeEntry logs of locations that patients have been to as a reference to jog their memory during interviews.

This has been the experience of MOH senior manager Cheryl Tang, 35, who heads a team of 80 in contact tracing at the ministry.

The authorities have called for people to use digital tools, like SafeEntry and TraceTogether, to aid contact tracing which they said can speed up work for contact tracers like Ms Tang.

Ms Tang said SafeEntry has added an element of precision to their work, as the check-in and check-out data gives contact tracers a better idea of how long a patient has spent at different locations.

This has allowed the Health Ministry to accurately collate a list of places visited by infectious patients.

“(SafeEntry) also enhanced the accuracy and completeness of the activity maps,” said Ms Tang.

Contact tracers list down all the activities and interactions a Covid-19 patient has had in the two weeks prior to the onset of symptoms and until the patient is isolated to ring-fence potential cases and find the origins of the infection.

The manpower-intensive process used to take several days, as contact tracers from different agencies have to call patients and their contacts, make house visits and even scour reams of closed-circuit television footage to identify and locate close contacts.

Ms Tang recalled an instance where she had to track down an acquaintance of a Covid-19 patient, who had held a gathering in her home.

While the patient had provided contact tracers the names and contacts of her guests, she forgot to mention an acquaintance whom a friend had brought to the gathering.

It took the contact tracers an additional day to contact and serve a quarantine order on the acquaintance, Ms Tang said.

If everyone at the party had used TraceTogether, the contact tracers would have been able to retrieve the acquaintance’s number almost immediately, she added.

However, she acknowledged that the extent of TraceTogether’s usefulness has not been seen yet due to enforced social distancing and the low community spread.

“For the app to really demonstrate its effectiveness to the full potential, I think we really need more people to use the app,” she said.

To date, around 2.1 million people have downloaded the app.

While SafeEntry has helped to cut the contact tracing process to one to three hours, this may change during the current reopening, as people start to gather in groups and in more places, Ms Tang said.

It is critical for the community to diligently use SafeEntry by checking in and out of locations, and to download and actively use the TraceTogether app, she added.

“We want to be able to quickly ring-fence cases, so as to prevent a resurgence of a lot of cases in the community.”

MOH senior manager Cheryl Tang said SafeEntry has added an element of precision to their work, as the check-in and check-out data gives contact tracers a better idea of how long a patient has spent at different locations.

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COVID-19 testing site at Denver’s Pepsi Center closes early amid long lines and limited capacity – The Denver Post

Denver’s free, drive-up COVID-19 testing site at the Pepsi Center closed its gates after noon on Tuesday amid concerns that limited lab capacity would lead to delayed results.

The closure of the site, where more than 2,000 people were tested by the time it cut off the line at 12:30 p.m., comes as novel coronavirus cases are surging once again in the U.S. and health officials report shortages in testing supplies nationwide.

“Unfortunately, the demand for the tests at the Pepsi Center site has increased,” said Kelli Christensen, spokeswoman for the city’s Department of Public Safety.

The testing site also saw increased demand after reopening following the July 4 holiday weekend.

The site will reopen at 8 a.m. Wednesday, but will now have a limit of 2,000 tests per day, Christensen said.

Just a week ago, city officials reduced the hours at the Pepsi Center after LabCorp, which is processing the tests, experienced a shortage in testing kits. The city then reversed course a day later after Gov. Jared Polis delivered 10,000 test kits to the site.

This is a developing story and will be updated.

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Coronavirus: Four students and school teacher among new cases in the community

SINGAPORE – Four students and a school teacher are among the 20 community cases announced on Tuesday (July 7).

The students are from Bedok View Secondary School, East Spring Primary School, Jurong West Primary School and Jurong West Secondary School, while the teacher is from Assumption Pathway School, the Ministry of Education (MOE) said in a statement.

The four students are linked to household infections and were on home quarantine orders before they were later swabbed as close contacts of their household members.

These students were well when they were last in school the previous week and investigations are currently under way for the teacher.

Beyond existing safe management measures, MOE said the affected schools have implemented additional precautions, including a thorough cleaning and disinfection of school premises.

About 60 students and 10 staff each in Assumption Pathway School, East Spring Primary School, Jurong West Primary School and Jurong West Secondary School who were in contact with the confirmed cases have been issued a 14-day leave of absence by MOE or home quarantine order by MOH.

For Bedok View Secondary School, MOE said that since the student was last in school on June 30, MOH has assessed the risk of infection for students and staff to be low and no leave of absence or home quarantine order has been issued.

MOE reminded all parents, staff and students that if a student or any adult household member is unwell, the student should not go to school.

“We would also like to assure all parents and students that while we can expect to see such confirmed cases from time to time through a more extensive Covid-19 testing regime, we will continue to quickly isolate those who are at risk of infection through leave of absence and home quarantine orders. This will prevent transmissions and enable the rest of the school system to continue to function normally,” said MOE.

Among the 20 new community cases on Tuesday are three Singaporean children – a two-year-old boy, a nine-year-old girl and an 11-year-old boy.

Two of them are contacts of a previously announced patient, a 29-year-old Indonesian woman who tested positive on July 2, and were confirmed to have Covid-19 infection on Monday.

The 11-year-old boy is a contact of another previously announced patient.

Twelve of the community cases are linked to previous cases or clusters. Of these, 11 were identified as contacts of previously confirmed cases, and had been tested during their quarantine. The remaining case was swabbed as part of proactive screening of workers in essential services, even though he is asymptomatic.

Eight of the community cases are currently unlinked. Of these, five cases were tested as they work in essential services. They are all asymptomatic.

The ActiveSG gym in Jurong Lake Gardens, Ban Kah Hiang Trading in Bukit Merah, Tampines Mall’s StarHub outlet, Cheng Hoo Tian restaurant, Great World City, Jurong Point , FairPrice Hub in Joo Koon Circle and Jem are among the places visited by Covid-19 patients while they were still infectious.

Those who were there at same time as the patients should monitor their health closely for two weeks from the date of their visit.

The ministry provides the list of locations that Covid-19 patients have visited for at least 30 minutes to get those who were at these places to monitor their health closely for two weeks from the date of their visit.

It has said that close contacts would already have been notified and that there is no need to avoid these places as they would have been cleaned if needed.

The full list can be found on MOH’s website.

Three imported Covid-19 cases on Tuesday comprise two Indian nationals, who are dependant’s pass holders. They returned to Singapore from India on June 23. The other case is a Filipino work pass holder, who returned to Singapore from the Philippines on June 19.

All of them were issued 14-day stay-home notices when they arrived in Singapore and were tested while serving their notices.

Migrant workers living in dormitories make up the remaining 134 cases, taking Singapore’s total to 45,140.

The average number of new cases in the community per day has increased to 14 in the past week, from eight in the week before that.

The average number of unlinked cases in the community per day has also increased – to six in the past week, from four in the week before that.

With 285 cases discharged on Tuesday, 40,990 patients have fully recovered from the disease.

A total of 219 patients remain in hospital, including one in the intensive care unit, while 3,893 are recuperating in community facilities.

Singapore has had 26 deaths from Covid-19 complications, while 12 who tested positive have died of other causes.

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COVID-19: US officials say take precautions if dining out

Better to eat outdoors and check what precautions the restaurant is taking to avoid contracting the virus.

United States officials in California, Florida, New York and New Jersey have instituted or reinstated indoor dining bans because of growing coronavirus cases. COVID-19 is increasing across more than half of US states, even as they try to reopen. 

One of the most pressing questions has been: How risky is dining out during the COVID-19 pandemic?

There is some risk, but health officials said there are precautions that can be taken to minimise the chances of exposure to the virus.

Ordering takeout or delivery is still the safest option for getting restaurant food, according to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

When eating at a restaurant, it is best to opt for outdoor seating where tables are at least six feet apart, the agency said. Dining inside a restaurant that has not reduced its capacity or safely distanced tables poses the most risk, it said.

The coronavirus spreads through droplets that are emitted when people talk, laugh, sing, cough or sneeze. Indoor spaces are riskier than outdoor spaces because it might be harder to keep people apart and there is less ventilation, the CDC said.

Diners should assess what other safety steps the restaurant is taking.

For example, servers should be wearing masks, and the restaurant should have a process to ensure people are not congregating too closely while waiting for a table, said Dr Susan Casey Bleasdale, an infectious disease expert at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Digital or disposable menus and throwaway utensils are also preferable, according to the CDC. The agency said touchless payment options, like those available on mobile devices, are optimal. Otherwise, restaurants should have procedures for avoiding hand-to-hand contact with cash and credit cards.

If gathering at a restaurant with a group, Bleasdale suggested only dining with known colleagues, and checking if they have been feeling sick or experiencing any symptoms.

People more vulnerable to severe illness from the virus, such as the elderly, might want to avoid eating out at restaurants altogether.

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WHO experts to travel to China at weekend to study Covid-19 origins

GENEVA (REUTERS) – The World Health Organisation (WHO) said on Tuesday (July 7) that experts from the global body would travel to China at the weekend to prepare a study of the origins of the novel coronavirus and how it jumped from animals to humans.

“The best place to start is clearly where the disease emerged in humans first, and where the disease emerged in humans first, where the first clusters of atypical pneumonia occurred, was in Wuhan,” Dr Mike Ryan head of the WHO’s emergencies programme, told a news briefing in Geneva.

Heavily criticised by the United States and others who have accused it of secrecy and a late response to the outbreak, which emerged in the central city of Wuhan late last year, China has said it was transparent throughout the early stages of the pandemic.

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Covid-19 pandemic to spark biggest retreat for meat consumption in decades

GENEVA (BLOOMBERG) – The pandemic is poised to usher in the biggest retreat for global meat consumption in decades.

Per capita consumption this year is set to fall to the lowest in nine years and the 3 per cent drop from last year represents the biggest decline since at least 2000, according to data from the United Nations.

Meanwhile, analysts across the globe are predicting declines not just per capita, but also for overall demand in their regions.

That’s a dramatic turnaround for an industry that has come to rely on steady growth.

Notably, the shift is happening in every major market, including in the US, where it is predicted that per capita meat consumption won’t return to pre-pandemic levels until at least after 2025.

There’s a swirl of factors contributing to the change.

The coronavirus economic fallout means consumers are cutting down on grocery bills.

Restaurant shutdowns have hurt demand, since people eat more meat when they dine out.

In China, which accounts for about a quarter of world consumption, there’s growing distrust over animal products after the government suggested a link between imported protein and an outbreak in Beijing.

Disruptions to production, like the plant outbreaks that sparked an industry crisis in the US, also created supply problems that led to less meat eating.

Climate advocates have for years been calling for lower meat consumption.

By some measures, agriculture accounts for more global greenhouse gas emissions than transport, thanks in part to livestock production.

Meat and dairy alone are responsible for as much as 18 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions caused by humans.

There are hints of a structural change taking place, with millions eating more plant-based proteins because of environmental concerns.

Meanwhile, the explosion of coronavirus infections at slaughterhouses and processing plants – from the US to Brazil and Germany – have highlighted the industry’s toll on its employees who handle dangerous work for low pay and few benefits.

Yet it is premature to say that fresh public scrutiny over worker conditions will impact demand.

At the same time, now that consumers have gotten more used to cooking at home, that habit could stick, especially as the lockdown-crippled food-service industry is predicted to shrink.

About 2.2 million restaurants worldwide could close, according to consulting firm Aaron Allen & Associates.

The loss of food service is a “major demand shock that will take a long time to recover from,” said Mr Altin Kalo, analyst at Steiner Consulting Group.

Before the pandemic, 50 per cent of all meat was consumed outside of the home in the US, according to Boston Consulting Group.

“If restaurants structurally look different in the future, and the number of out-of-home eating occasions is permanently altered, then I think it’s fair to say there may be less meat consumption” going forward, said Boston Consulting Group’s agribusiness expert Decker Walker.

“People are still going to consume the same amount of calories, but they will do it at home, where the meat percentage is lower.”

This year’s projected decline would also come after a drop in per capita global consumption in 2019, when the African swine fever disease killed millions of hogs in China, boosting retail pork prices and curbing demand.

The losses over two straight years will mean close to a 5 per cent slump in per-capita consumption since 2018, according to data from the UN’s Food & Agriculture Organisation.

There’s still a chance that total world consumption could rise this year.

That’s because population could be growing at a faster rate than meat production.

Still, per-person reductions mark a turning point for the industry.

EUROPE

In the European Union, pork consumption is expected to fall to a seven-year low in 2020, with beef and chicken also hitting troughs, the US Department of Agriculture forecasts.

The pandemic hit at a time when there were already signs of easing meat demand in parts of the bloc on environmental and animal-welfare concerns.

Germany, home to bratwurst and schnitzel, has become a vegetarian haven, and a survey published by its agriculture ministry in May showed 26 per cent of respondents eat meat or sausage daily, versus 34 per cent in 2015.

“A balanced diet does not include meat and sausages every day,” German Agriculture Minister Julia Kloeckner said in a statement.

“The number of those who occasionally consciously do without it has increased.”

CHINA

China’s pork consumption this year may drop by about 35 per cent when compared with normal levels, before the pandemic and outbreaks of African swine fever, said Mr Lin Guofa, a senior analyst at Bric Agriculture Group, a Beijing-based consulting firm.

The country accounts for 40 per cent of global pork demand.

Ms Pan Chenjun, a senior livestock analyst with Rabobank, forecasts a similar decline.

Higher prices, lower supply, Covid-19, and food-safety concerns are the major reasons behind the drop, she said in an e-mail.

The nation’s meat imports, which have helped to make up for deficits left from swine fever’s impact, may have peaked in the first half of the year, she said.

“Global supply is full of uncertainty for the rest of the year,” she said.

BRAZIL

Even in Brazil – famous for its barbecues and churrascarias, where slabs of beef are cut at your table’s edge – meat consumption is going through an intense process of change, according to Wagner Yanaguizawa, an analyst at Rabobank Brazil.

The pandemic is accelerating shifts in consumer interest in food safety, traceability and sustainability, he said.

And as the nation becomes the new epicentre of the coronavirus, a deep recession is expected with consequences to consumers’ purchasing power.

“Consumption of all animal proteins should fall amid lower income, but beef will definitely suffer more,” said Mr Caio Toledo, risk management consultant and livestock head at StoneX.

Brazil is the world’s third-largest beef consumer.

Production costs will rise over the long term along with land prices, while more companies should look to curb their environmental impact and shift away from deforestation to increase pastureland, he said.

Eventually, that will make beef eating a luxury for consumers in different parts of the world, Mr Toledo said.

THE U.S.

American ranchers have been expanding their livestock herds in anticipation of a demand boom from China, where earlier pork shortfalls had sent prices soaring.

But while shipments have increased, it’s never been the bonanza that farmers were hoping for.

Now that demand is falling both domestically and around the world, the US could be left with a meat glut that pressures farmer profits.

Declines in the restaurant industry are a big part of the painful picture, said Mr Will Sawyer, an animal protein economist at farm lender CoBank ACB.

“That food-services disruption globally really hurt us across the board, whether it’s exports or domestically,” he said.

Researchers at the University of Missouri’s Food & Agricultural Policy Research Institute, predict this year’s per capita meat consumption will decline for the first time since 2014.

And the measure is forecast to keep falling through at least 2025.

“We find ourselves in an environment today, and probably for the next 12 months, where meat supply, not just in the US, but probably on a global basis, is in excess of demand,” Mr Sawyer said.

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No second wave of Covid-19 infections yet, but risk is there as shown in Tampines cases: Gan Kim Yong

SINGAPORE – Singapore has not seen a second wave of infections yet even though nine people living in Block 111 Tampines Street 11 have Covid-19, said Health Minister Gan Kim Yong.

But the risk is there, he said, noting that a total of 118 people who live in or visited the cluster at the block have been tested for Covid-19 since the end of June and all have tested negative.

Mr Gan said he was concerned that this cluster could be a major outbreak for Singapore, and the task force decided to test everyone in the section of the building.

“We must continue to remain vigilant, because if we let our guard down, the virus will creep in, the infections will grow and we will have a bigger problem on our hands,” said Mr Gan, who shared the update at a virtual press conference on Tuesday (July 7).

“Once we see a possible cluster forming, we will move in quickly to impose precautionary measures to break the chain of transmission,” he added.

The nine Covid-19 patients in Block 111 come from two households on different floors, with no interaction between them, but share the same lifts and stairwell.

The multi-ministry task force tackling Covid-19 said it has not been able to establish conclusively what is the connection between the two households, and that it could be a coincidence that the two households have cases in close proximity within the same block.

National Development Minister Lawrence Wong, who co-chairs the task force, said Singapore cannot rule out having to impose additional restrictions or put in another circuit breaker down the road.

“No one can rule out that possibility. Countries that exited from their lockdowns have had to reimpose lockdowns. But we’ll try very hard not to have to go down that path,” he said.

An expanded toolkit of control measures is key to resisting another lockdown. The toolkit includes expanded testing capacity and the ability to take more targeted, swifter actions, he added.

The Health Ministry detected the first case living in the block on June 23.

A 66-year-old Singaporean man had worked at The Leo Dormitory and was picked up during the ministry’s proactive screening of dormitories. Six of his household members subsequently tested positive for Covid-19, forming a cluster.

On June 27, another two Covid-19 cases, one of whom is a 15-year-old Singaporean female, emerged in a different household in the same block, but on a different floor. They reported that they had not interacted with the cluster.

Residents of all 58 households living in the same section of the block that share a common lift lobby and stairwell were contacted to see if they were well.

Everyone in the 58 units was then put on active phone surveillance. In addition, the affected common areas in the block were disinfected and cleaning of the area stepped up.

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Millions of Americans have moved due to coronavirus

NEW YORK (BLOOMBERG) – The ongoing coronavirus pandemic, which has infected nearly three million Americans and killed over 130,000, has also caused millions to uproot themselves from their homes.

Three per cent of US adults have moved either temporarily or permanently and 6 per cent say that someone has moved into their home because of Covid-19, according to new Pew Research Centre data.

In total, more than one in five adults either moved themselves, had someone move into their home, or knew someone who did due to the virus.

The most kinetic group by far was young people.

Nearly one in 10 Americans aged 18 to 29 said they had moved because of the pandemic, and many of them have returned home.

“One of the more striking findings is that young adults really are more affected than other groups across the board,” said Ms D’Vera Cohn, a senior writer and editor at Pew.

Generation Z is feeling the full force of the pandemic’s economic effects and many college students scrambled to arrange new housing in March as campuses closed en masse.

Reducing the risk of contracting the virus was the most common reason respondents said they moved (28 per cent), followed by the closure of college campuses (23 per cent) and to be with family (20 per cent).

The majority of those who moved (61 per cent) said they’re now living with a family member.

Pew did not specifically ask respondents if their move was permanent or temporary, but only 9 per cent said they had bought or rented a permanent new home, indicating that most of those who have been displaced don’t plan to stay in their new locations for the long term.

The new data comes from Pew’s American Trends Panel survey of 9,654 adults conducted between June 4 and 10.

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