Singapore reports 1 new COVID-19 community case, first in more than 2 weeks

Singapore reports 1 new COVID-19 community case, first in more than 2 weeks

Office workers wearing face masks are seen in the financial business district in Singapore
Office workers wearing face masks are seen near the financial business district in Singapore on Nov 23, 2020. (Photo: AFP/Roslan Rahman)

SINGAPORE: A community case was discovered among the new COVID-19 infections reported in Singapore on Monday (Dec 21), the Ministry of Health (MOH) said.

This is the first community case reported in Singapore since Dec 5. 

The case, a 39-year-old Singaporean woman, was asymptomatic. 

She was detected when she was tested for COVID-19 before a scheduled cruise trip. The next day, she was taken to the National Centre for Infectious Diseases, where her test returned positive for COVID-19 infection, said MOH.  

READ: Sole COVID-19 case in community went to Southern Islands in group of 12: MOH

The National Public Health Laboratory has run further tests to verify the woman is positive for COVID-19 infection and her serological test result is pending.

MOH also added several venues to the list of public places visited by COVID-19 cases during their infectious period, including Anchorpoint Shopping Centre, JCube, Raffles City and Takashimaya. 

THREE SINGAPOREANS AMONG IMPORTED CASES

Nine imported cases were also reported on Monday, and all were placed on stay-home notice or isolated upon their arrival in Singapore, MOH said.

Three Singaporeans who returned from the UK and India were among the nine imported cases. 

An additional three cases include two work permit holders currently employed in Singapore who arrived from Indonesia and Myanmar, and a student's pass holder who also arrived from Myanmar.

The remaining cases are short-term visit pass holders who are crew members of separate vessels that arrived from Indonesia. 

"They had not disembarked from their ships until they were conveyed to a quarantine facility or hospital," said MOH. 



TESTING OPERATIONS COMPLETED AT MANDARIN ORCHARD SINGAPORE

MOH said it has also completed its special testing operations to test all individuals serving their stay-home notice at Mandarin Orchard Singapore, as well as the staff working at the hotel. 

A total of 394 people staying at the hotel were swabbed, and three had tested positive for COVID-19 on Dec 20. 

READ: 13 imported COVID-19 cases who served stay-home notice at Mandarin Orchard hotel investigated for 'potential link'

READ: 3 COVID-19 cases found among people serving stay-home notice at Mandarin Orchard hotel

MOH also tested 571 members of the staff at the hotel and all polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test results came back negative for COVID-19, meaning there is no ongoing infection among the hotel staff. 

The serological tests of eight more workers came back positive, indicating likely past infections, in addition to the three announced on Sunday. 

"Epidemiological investigations of these 11 cases are in progress. 

"In the meantime, we will test their identified close contacts as a precautionary measure, and also conduct serological tests to determine if these individuals could have been infected by them," said MOH. 

Eight more COVID-19 cases were discharged from hospitals or community isolation facilities. A total of 58,287 cases have fully recovered from the infection.

There are currently 46 cases who are still in hospital, most of whom are stable or improving. No one is in the intensive care unit.

A total of 70 cases are being cared for at community facilities. These cases have mild symptoms or are clinically well but still test positive for COVID-19.

FIRST SHIPMENT OF VACCINE 

Singapore received its first shipment of COVID-19 vaccines on Monday evening, becoming the first country in Asia to take in the vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech.

The shipment, flown in by a Singapore Airlines freighter from Brussels, was taken to SATS’ cold-chain facility for storage and ground transportation.

Vaccinations in Singapore will be voluntary and priority will be given to those at greatest risk, such as frontline and healthcare workers, as well as the elderly and the vulnerable, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said on Dec 14. 

READ: First shipment of COVID-19 vaccines arrives in Singapore

The Health Sciences Authority has recommended that the vaccine be administered to people above 16, except for pregnant women and people with compromised immune systems, pending safety and efficacy data on these groups of people.

In addition, people with a history of anaphylaxis or the rapid onset of severe allergic reactions should not receive the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine as a precautionary measure.

Singapore should vaccinate as many people as possible when the COVID-19 vaccine arrives, says Associate Professor Lim Poh Lian, who is on the Expert Committee for COVID-19 Vaccination.

READ: Don't focus on herd immunity, vaccination should be comprehensive: COVID-19 panel expert

READ: Data on Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine 'robustly and thoroughly reviewed', says HSA 

Prof Poh added that it’s a “mistake to focus on percentages” to achieve herd immunity when it comes to the vaccination.

“I think the optimum outcome is that we vaccinate everybody in Singapore that we can safely vaccinate and who's willing to be vaccinated," she said.

READ: Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Sinovac: A look at three key COVID-19 vaccines

READ: Moderna confirms agreement with MOH to supply Singapore with COVID-19 vaccine

Achieving herd immunity means there will not be outbreaks raging in the community, but it doesn’t mean that there are no cases or small clusters, said Assoc Prof Lim, a senior consultant and head of the Travellers’ Health & Vaccination Clinic at Tan Tock Seng Hospital.

“Even if we get 70 per cent or 80 per cent of the population vaccinated, four people you see might be fine but that fifth person is not okay. That person would get hurt, they would get sick they could end up in the ICU on a ventilator," she said. 

Singapore has reported a total of 58,432 cases of COVID-19 as of Monday.

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Source: CNA/ga/zl

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