SINGAPORE: Nine community cases were among 24 new COVID-19 infections reported in Singapore as of noon on Friday (Apr 30), the Ministry of Health (MOH) said in its daily update.
Of the nine community infections, eight are linked to previous cases.
Four of these cases are linked to the Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH) cluster and were detected from MOH's proactive testing of patients and staff members at the hospital. This brings the total number of cases linked to the hospital to 13.
The four cases comprise two patients, a doctor and a cleaner.
One patient is a 77-year-old Singaporean woman who was admitted to Ward 9D on Apr 22. She tested negative for COVID-19 on Apr 26 while warded there.
The next day, she was discharged to United Medicare Centre (Toa Payoh) Nursing Home.
On Apr 28, she was isolated and tested after she was identified as a patient who had stayed in Ward 9D. Her test came back positive for COVID-19 infection on the same day.
"TTSH has stopped all patient transfers to intermediate and long-term care facilities until swabs for patients and staff in lockdown wards are completed and cleared," said MOH.
It has also reminded such facilities to closely monitor patients transferred from the hospital form Apr 18 onwards.
The other TTSH patient is a 65-year-old Singaporean woman who has been warded in Ward 9C since Apr 19.
She was detected as part of the hospital's proactive testing of patients on Apr 29, and her result came back positive for COVID-19 infection on the same day.
"As a precautionary measure, TTSH locked down Ward 9C, and tested all staff and patients who had been in the ward. All other patients in Ward 9C have tested negative for COVID-19 infection. Results for staff are pending," said MOH.
A doctor is also among the new cases at the hospital. The 36-year-old Singaporean man is a doctor at the National Neuroscience Institute.
He is asymptomatic and was detected on Apr 29 as part of TTSH’s proactive testing of staff members. His test result came back positive for COVID-19 infection on the same day.
He received his first dose of COVID-19 vaccine on Jan 21 and the second dose on Feb 24.
The remaining case linked to TTSH is a 41 year-old cleaner, a Chinese national, at ISS Facility Services, who is deployed to Ward 9D.
She is asymptomatic and was detected on Apr 29 as part of the hospital's proactive testing of staff in Ward 9D. Her test came back positive for COVID-19 infection on the same day. Her serological test result has come back negative.
She received her first dose of COVID-19 vaccine on Jan 27 and the second dose on Feb 22.
OTHER COMMUNITY CASES
One of them is a 26 year-old permanent resident who works as a cleaner with Exceltec Property Management and deployed at the Tuas South care facility. Like her colleague who tested positive earlier, she wears full personal protection equipment at work.
The other case linked to the care facility is a 41-year-old Malaysian man who works as a sales assistant at New Odense(s) Confectionery & Bakery. He is a household contact of the 26-year-old.
READ: Yale-NUS student tests positive for COVID-19; residents in affected hostel block to self-isolate
Two other community cases are linked to a senior research fellow at the National University of Singapore (NUS), who was confirmed to have COVID-19 infection on Apr 15. They are the wife and four-year-old daughter of the researcher's brother, who had also contracted COVID-19. This cluster has grown to five cases with the new infections.
The wife is a 33 year-old Indian national who is a dependant’s pass holder and a homemaker.
As she and her child had been identified as close contacts of the NUS researcher, they were placed on quarantine on Apr 15.
They were tested for COVID-19 infection during quarantine on Apr 16 and both their tests were negative.
They developed acute respiratory infection symptoms on Apr 28 and were tested again after reporting their symptoms. This time, their test results came back positive for COVID-19 infection on Apr 29 and they were taken to KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital.
READ: Causeway Point, Woodlands North Plaza among places visited by COVID-19 cases during infectious period
The other community case, which is unlinked, is an NUS student who lives on the Yale-NUS College campus and last attended classes on Apr 12.
The Indian national had been in his home country for 10 months, where he was a close contact of two confirmed cases.
He developed a fever, sore throat and body aches on Apr 26 and self-isolated in his room.
He was tested for COVID-19 by the NUS University Health Centre on Apr 28, and his result came back positive the next day.
"His Ct value was very high, which is indicative of a low viral load, and his serology test result has come back positive.
"He could be shedding minute fragments of the virus RNA from a past infection which are no longer transmissible and infective to others, but given that we are not able to definitively conclude when he had been infected, we will take all the necessary public health actions as a precautionary measure," said MOH.
The remaining 15 cases reported on Friday are imported and were placed on stay-home notice upon arrival in Singapore, the ministry said.
Among them are two Singaporeans and two permanent residents who returned from India.
Three imported cases are dependant’s pass holders who arrived from India and Nepal.
There were also a long-term visit pass holder who arrived from Malaysia and a work pass holder who arrived from Nepal.
The imported infections also include six work permit holders who arrived from Indonesia and the Philippines. They are all foreign domestic workers.
There are no new cases in migrant workers’ dormitories.
MOH said 13 more COVID-19 cases have been discharged from hospitals or community isolation facilities. In all, 60,751 have fully recovered from the infection.
There are now 113 confirmed cases who are still in hospital, most of whom are stable or improving, with none in the intensive care unit.
Another 251 cases are isolated and cared for at community facilities. They have mild symptoms, or are clinically well but still test positive for COVID-19.
SINGAPORE'S FIRST HOSPITAL CLUSTER
The TTSH cluster is Singapore's first hospital cluster and currently the country's largest.
A 46-year-old nurse from the Philippines first tested positive on Apr 27.
Twelve others have since tested positive - two doctors, a healthcare assistant, a cleaner at the hospital and eight patients.
A total of four hospital wards have now been locked down up from two wards on Thursday.
This means there will be no movement in and out of those wards except for essential testing, said the hospital's CEO Dr Eugene Soh at a press conference by the COVID-19 multi-ministry task force.
There is also a dedicated team of staff members caring for patients in these wards.
READ: COVID-19: Staff placed on leave of absence, 4 wards locked down as Tan Tock Seng Hospital moves to contain cluster
There are currently 1,100 inpatients and 4,500 staff members at the hospital – all of whom will be swabbed, said Dr Soh.
All inpatients will be swabbed by Friday evening, while all 4,500 employees will complete their swab tests by the weekend, he added.
Visitors are not allowed at the hospital except on a case-by-case basis for patients who are critically ill.
NEW BORDER RESTRICTIONS
Singapore will stop entry or transit for visitors with recent travel history to Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, the COVID-19 task force announced on Friday.
The ban starts on May 2 and covers all long-term pass holders and short-term visitors who have been in the four countries in the last 14 days, including transit.
Locally, MOH said that individuals should limit their social interactions in view of the growing number of community cases.
Overall, the number of new cases in the community has increased from 10 in the week before to 35 in the past week. Unlinked cases in the community have also increased from five in the week before to six in the past week.
As of Friday, Singapore has reported a total of 61,145 COVID-19 cases.