People wearing face masks cross a road amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Singapore May 14, 2021. REUTERS/Caroline Chia

Singapore tightens COVID-19 measures, travel bubble unlikely

· The Peninsula

SINGAPORE - Singapore further tightened its COVID-19 measures as it sought to control an increase in untraceable coronavirus infections in the city-state.

From Sunday until June 13, gatherings will be limited to two people, and restaurants can only provide delivery or takeout services. Companies will have to make working from home the default for employees who are able to do so.

"A pattern of local unlinked community cases has emerged and is persisting,” Singapore’s Ministry of Health said in a statement Friday. "This is worrying as it suggests that there may be unknown cases in the community with possible ongoing community transmission and that our earlier and ongoing measures to break the chains of transmissions may be insufficient.”

Infections not linked to identified cases have risen to 15 in the last week, more than double the week before.

The number of new cases has risen to 71 in the last week, from 48 the week before, as infections rise from a cluster tied to Changi Airport.

The tightening of restrictions comes before Singapore and Hong Kong are slated to launch their long-delayed air travel bubble on May 26, allowing quarantine-free travel between the cities.

Singapore's Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung was quoted as saying in The Straits Times that Singapore "very likely” would not meet the criteria for the air travel bubble to go ahead.

Ong said the numbers will be closely monitored and a decision on the bubble and its start date will be announced early next week.

Singapore has reported a total of 61,453 cases since the pandemic started, with 31 deaths.

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