(Bloomberg) -- Singapore said it’s learning more about the nature of the coronavirus over the past week and it’s “clearly emerging” to be different from SARS.

The coronavirus is actually closer to the H1N1 virus because it spreads more easily than severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, Minister Lawrence Wong, who co-chairs a task force coordinating the city-state’s virus response, said in a briefing on Friday. It also has a mortality rate that’s lower than SARS, he said.

Singapore confirmed nine new cases of coronavirus on Friday, bringing the total number to 67. The number of people discharged rose by two to 17.

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Singapore announced on Friday an indefinite suspension of services with effect from this weekend. Two of five clusters of confirmed cases identified by Singapore authorities are linked to churches.

Here’s what else authorities said:

  • Many of the locally-confirmed cases were people who continued to go out into the public when they were already ill, raising the risk of infecting others even as symptoms remained mild, according to a Ministry of Health statement Friday. MOH urged that patients with respiratory symptoms seek medical treatment early and stay home throughout illness
  • “With our mild symptoms, we sometimes let our guard down -- we continue going out even though we don’t really feel well, and that’s how the virus transmits,” said Wong
  • Government needs to calibrate a definition for coronavirus that’s closer to H1N1, where the majority of cases were mild
  • Wong says authorities are unlikely to continue contact tracing if the situation worsens, but will look at patients who come forward
  • The Monetary Authority of Singapore said in a statement Friday that it welcomes measures from banks and insurers to support customers, and that some insurers have extended additional benefits to life policy holders diagnosed with coronavirus

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To contact the reporters on this story: Philip J. Heijmans in Singapore at pheijmans1@bloomberg.net;Michelle Jamrisko in Singapore at mjamrisko@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Shamim Adam at sadam2@bloomberg.net

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