3 pre-school employees contract COVID-19, leave of absence issued to 'small group' of children, staff

3 pre-school employees contract COVID-19, leave of absence issued to 'small group' of children, staff

File photo of a COVID-19 test kit
File photo: A medic wearing protective gloves shows a test kit as he works at a mobile laboratory for coronavirus testing. (Photo: REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun)

SINGAPORE: Three pre-school staff members have tested positive for COVID-19 under a proactive testing regime before centres reopen after the “circuit breaker” period, said the Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA) on Thursday (May 21).

Two of the cases had gone to work after experiencing the onset of symptoms, the Ministry of Health (MOH) said in its daily update.

The first - Case 29513 - is a 40-year-old Singaporean woman who went to work at My First Skool @ 303 Canberra after experiencing onset of symptoms on Tuesday. 

Case 29514, a 58-year-old Singaporean woman, had gone to work at PCF Sparkletots Pre-school @ Gambas after experiencing onset of symptoms, although MOH did not specify when.

The third case, a 34-year-old Singaporean woman, did not go to work after the onset of symptoms. MOH did not say where she works. 

All three tested positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday and are currently unlinked to other cases.

ECDA said last week that all pre-school and early intervention staff members would undergo a one-time swab test by May 26 in order to reduce the risk of transmission when centres resume full services.

“During this proactive testing of all staff, we would expect some positive cases to be identified,” said ECDA in its media statement on Thursday.

READ: Singapore reports highest number of new COVID-19 cases among citizens or PRs in more than 3 weeks

READ: All pre-school staff to be swabbed for COVID-19 before centres resume full services

The tests, which started on May 15 and are scheduled to be completed by the end of the month, have seen about 10,400 pre-school staff members test negative for the novel coronavirus so far, while three positive cases have been identified.

As a precautionary measure, ECDA has directed that a 14-day leave of absence be issued for the “small group” of children and staff members who were recently present with the three confirmed cases in the pre-schools, said the agency.

Contact tracing by MOH is ongoing and close contacts of the positive COVID-19 cases will be placed on quarantine orders.

ECDA said the pre-schools have been closed for two days for "thorough cleaning and disinfection" of their premises, and may resume services for children and staff members who are not on a leave of absence.

READ: Singapore reports 448 new COVID-19 cases and 23rd death

The cases among pre-school staff members come two days after the Government announced that pre-schools and early intervention centres will be allowed to reopen gradually from Jun 2, beginning with children at the kindergarten level.

Children in Nursery 1 and 2 will follow from Jun 8, while those in infant care and playgroup will be able to return from Jun 10.

Centres are currently open to offer limited services to children whose parents are working in essential services such as healthcare.

READ: Transition to a 'new normal' after circuit breaker: How will measures be lifted beyond Phase 1?

Testing is also being carried out for residents and employees at nursing homes, welfare homes, sheltered homes and adult disability homes.

This has been prioritised as the elderly are particularly vulnerable to developing complications from COVID-19, MOH and the Ministry of Social and Family Development said earlier this month.

So far Singapore has seen 29,812 cases of COVID-19 with 448 new cases reported on Thursday.

In its preliminary update on Thursday, the health ministry said that 13 of the 448 new cases are either Singaporeans or permanent residents.

Of these, seven were picked up from the ministry's active surveillance and screening of nursing home residents and pre-school staff, while another four are part of a family cluster linked to a dormitory.

Epidemiological investigations are ongoing for the other two cases.

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Source: CNA/ga(nc)

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