SINGAPORE: The authorities are studying the possibility of issues with airflow and ventilation in a ward which has emerged as the epicentre of the COVID-19 cluster at the Tan Tock Seng Hospital.
They are exploring the possibility of such “local influences” that may have led to a “super spreading event” occurring in Ward 9D, said director of medical services at the Ministry of Health (MOH) Associate Professor Kenneth Mak.
“We are studying the possibility that there may be issues with the airflow and ventilation in the ward among various other hypotheses that we are entertaining,” he said on Tuesday (May 4) at a press conference held by the COVID-19 multi-ministry task force.
Assoc Prof Mak was responding to a question on what could have led to the transmission at the hospital, which is currently the largest active COVID-19 cluster in Singapore.
The TTSH cluster has grown to 40 cases of infections as of Tuesday after a nurse who works at Ward 9D first tested positive on Apr 27.
Patients who are warded there or have been discharged, doctors who have attended to patients in this ward, and a physiotherapist who works there are among the cases linked to the cluster.
The authorities noted that the clustering of cases is “really around one single ward”, Assoc Prof Mak said.
Asked whether the reason behind the spread is due to a lack of mask-wearing, he said that such “lack of discipline” is something that the authorities “always look at”.
The authorities are conducting epidemiological investigations, he added.
“Until the studies are complete, we will not be able to give a definitive response, but we are exploring all possibilities and we are taking precautions accordingly, as we manage existing patients admitted in TTSH,” he said.