Singapore closes schools over concern that new Covid strains ‘attack the younger children’

Authorities in Singapore have announced that schools will close from Wednesday over concerns that new strains of Covid, such as the one that caused a spike in infections in India, are affecting more children throughout the nation.

The new measure will see primary and secondary schools, alongside junior colleges, move to home-based classes from Wednesday until the remainder of the school term, which ends on May 28, in order to reduce the risk of transmission between children.

Health Minister Ong Ye Kung stated that the closure of schools was required as a new strain, the B.1.617 mutation, “appears to affect children more,” with a cluster having been identified at an education center.

Singapore’s education minister, Chan Chun Sing, confirmed that health officials had found that “some of these mutations are much more virulent and they seem to attack the younger children.”

While none of the children infected are currently seriously ill, officials have said that plans need to be outlined for vaccinating individuals under the age of 16 to reduce the risk of this age group contracting the disease or spreading it.

The city-state has already restriction public gatherings, closed indoor restaurants, and told gyms to shut down in order to attempt to curb rising case numbers.

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The virtual press conference to announce the stricter restrictions came after the city-state saw domestic cases rise, with 38 confirmed on Sunday, the highest number of new daily infections in eight months, after a prolonged period of almost zero cases.

Singapore’s decision to close schools for the term follows a similar decision from Taiwan, which announced on Tuesday that education hubs will close due to similar concerns about rising infection numbers.

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