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Coronavirus: 9 new cases confirmed in Singapore with 6 linked to Grace Assembly church

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The church is now the biggest cluster, with 13 confirmed cases.

[SINGAPORE] Nine more coronavirus cases have been confirmed here, with six linked to the Grace Assembly of God church.

The church is now the biggest cluster, with 13 confirmed cases. The first two patients there tested positive on Feb 11.

Three more new cases have also surfaced, bringing the total number of those who have been infected to 67, the Ministry of Health said on Friday (Feb 14).

This includes a PUB employee, an administrative staff who works in the Environment Building.

Even as more cases are uncovered and Singapore steps up measures to contain the virus, there are no plans to further increase the current alert level, said Health Minister Gan Kim Yong at a press conference.

"I want to say categorically that we have no plans to go to Dorscon red," said Mr Gan, who co-chairs a multi-ministry task force with National Development Minister Lawrence Wong.

Singapore moved from yellow to orange on Feb 7 after the first local cases with no known link to previous cases were announced.

Dorscon (Disease Outbreak Response System Condition) orange means the disease is severe and spreads easily between people, but it has not spread widely in Singapore and is being contained.

Dorscon red is for when the disease is severe and spreading widely.

Meanwhile, two more patients have been discharged while six remain in critical care, said Associate Professor Kenneth Mak, director of medical services at MOH.

Asked if a "super spreader" has been identified within the church cluster, Prof Mak said that studies and contact tracing are being done.

"We have not identified a single individual to be a super spreader," he said.

Mr Wong noted that the current Covid-19 disease is different from the severe acute respiratory syndrome (Sars) and is, in fact, closer to H1N1 (influenza).

While less severe and less infectious than Sars, the current virus has a higher degree of infection, which is why experts have projected that it may spread at a much faster rate, he said.

He said: "If you look at H1N1 and the flu pandemic in 2009, in Singapore alone, more than 400,000 got ill from H1N1 in less that a year. We are not saying this will happen for Covid-19. It's a different disease."

But transmission patterns are similar to H1N1, so there is a need to prepare for scenarios of wider transmission around the world, he said.

Apart from the Grace Assembly of God church, the other clusters that have been identified so far are the Life Church and Missions Singapore, the Yong Thai Hang medicine shop, the Grand Hyatt and a Seletar Aerospace Heights construction site.

THE STRAITS TIMES