Ong Ye Kung: We will consider closing individual schools if Covid-19 clusters are discovered

Cases of Covid-19 infection have been found in five MOE schools here, but no clusters have been detected yet.

Nigel Chua | June 07, 2020, 04:31 PM

The Ministry of Education (MOE) will consider closing individual schools if clusters of the Covid-19 infection are found there.

Education Minister Ong Ye Kung made this statement on June 7, at a press conference, where it was announced that five confirmed cases of Covid-19 infection had been found among students and staff at five different MOE schools.

Schools had just reopened earlier this week on June 2, after being closed for the circuit breaker period.

Could schools be closed once again?

Ong was asked if there was a possibility of schools being closed once again, if the number of infected students were to reach a certain threshold.

He replied that "we will consider closing a school if there is a cluster within the school," and that while this has not happened yet, "we do our best to prevent it" from happening.

One of the preventative steps that could be taken is stepping up testing, as this would reduce the chances that a cluster develops within a given school, Ong said.

Across the five schools where confirmed cases had been found, 29 staff and 100 students who were contacts of the confirmed cases have been issued with either a 14-day Leave of Absence (LOA) or a Home Quarantine Order (HQO).

Those on HQO will be swabbed for Covid-19 before the start of their HQO, and at the end of the HQO as well, MOE said.

Why are the affected schools still carrying out lessons as per normal?

MOE also said that the arrangements for all schools, including the five affected schools, will remain unchanged, and students will continue to attend in staggered cohorts.

Ong was asked why this was the case, given that there had already been confirmed cases in those schools, to which he replied that the five cases were likely infected during the Circuit Breaker period, meaning that there was no transmission in schools.

He said that schools could still remain open, provided that cases were detected early, with arrangements to quarantine the close contacts of infected cases.

"This is how we can continue our daily lives amid Covid-19," he said.

Covid-19 update on June 7

As of June 7 at 12:00pm, the Ministry of Health confirmed 383 new cases of Covid-19 infection, bringing the total number of reported cases in Singapore to 37,910.

There were 14 new cases in the community on June 7, including the five cases from MOE schools.

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