SINGAPORE: Singapore reported 27 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday (Dec 30), including one infection in the community.
The remaining cases were imported. Among them was a Singapore Airlines (SIA) pilot who had tested negative for COVID-19 upon returning to Singapore from the United Kingdom but later developed symptoms, said the Ministry of Health (MOH).
The 40-year-old Singaporean was also one of two new cases who preliminarily tested positive for the potentially more contagious B117 strain circulating in the UK. Further tests will be conducted to confirm the strain, said MOH.
The pilot had travelled to the UK for work from Dec 19 to 22 and was tested on Dec 23 as part of protocols for air crew who travel frequently, said MOH. That test came back negative.
He developed a fever on Dec 26 and sought medical treatment at a general practitioner clinic the next day where he was swabbed. The COVID-19 test came back positive on Dec 29.
His serological test result was negative, indicating a likely current infection.
The sole community case involved a 46-year-old Singapore permanent resident who is a marine surveyor at Lloyd’s Register Singapore. He works onboard vessels docked at Sembcorp Marine Admiralty Yard.
According to MOH, he developed acute respiratory infection symptoms on Dec 27 and sought treatment at a general practitioner clinic the next day where he was tested for COVID-19.
He was confirmed to have COVID-19 on Dec 29 and was taken to the National Centre for Infectious Diseases (NCID). His serological test result was negative.
The case is currently unlinked.
The man had not gone to work since onset of symptoms, said the ministry. His earlier tests from rostered routine testing – the last being on Dec 14 - had been negative for COVID-19.
All his identified close contacts, including his family members, have been isolated and placed on quarantine. They will be tested at the start and end of their quarantine period, said MOH.
"We will also conduct serological tests for the close contacts to determine if the case could have been infected by them," the ministry added.
IMPORTED CASES AND B117 STRAIN
Among the imported cases, seven are Singaporeans or permanent residents who returned from India, Indonesia, Portugal, the UK, US and Switzerland.
Five are work pass holders who arrived from the Philippines, India and the UK.
The work pass holder who arrived from the UK, a 53-year-old man, preliminarily tested positive for the B117 strain and is pending further confirmatory tests, said MOH.
He tested negative for the coronavirus during his stay-home notice but after the isolation period ended on Dec 21, he developed body ache on Dec 22 and acute respiratory symptoms on Dec 25. He sought medical treatment on Dec 28 when he was swabbed for COVID-19.
His serological test result has also come back positive, said MOH.
Another seven imported cases are work permit holders who arrived from Indonesia and Myanmar, of whom six are foreign domestic workers.
Three are dependant’s pass holders who arrived from India.
There is a student’s pass holder who arrived from Indonesia, a long-term visit pass holder who arrived from India and a short-term visit pass holder who arrived from Indonesia to visit her Singaporean spouse.
The remaining case is a special pass holder who is a crew member of a ship that arrived from Indonesia. He did not disembark the ship until he was taken to a hospital following a swab onboard.
Apart from the SIA pilot, the remaining 25 imported cases were placed on stay-home notice or isolated upon their arrival in Singapore.
Eleven more cases of COVID-19 have been discharged from hospitals or community isolation facilities, taking the total recoveries to 58,411.
There are 52 cases who are still in hospital. Most are stable or improving and there are no cases in the intensive care unit.
A total of 77 are being isolated and cared for at community facilities. These are those who have mild symptoms or are clinically well but still test positive for COVID-19.
As of Wednesday, Singapore has reported a total of 58,569 COVID-19 cases, with 29 fatalities from the disease.
Following the positive tests of two SIA employees - a pilot and an air steward - the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) said on Wednesday it will further tighten COVID-19 measures for air crew of Singapore carriers with immediate effect.
Air crew who layover in "high-risk destinations" will be required to undergo polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests on three occasions - upon arrival in Singapore, and on the third and seventh day following their return.
Crew will also be required to self-isolate until they receive a negative result from their seventh-day PCR test, said CAAS.
Additionally, air crew on layover will be required to further minimise their contact with locals when they are overseas.
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Singapore began its COVID-19 vaccination exercise on Wednesday, with healthcare workers at NCID the first to get the shots.
Senior staff nurse Sarah Lim, 46, was the first person in Singapore to receive a COVID-19 vaccination. A total of 40 healthcare workers at NCID received the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine developed by United States pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and German firm BioNTech.
This vaccine requires two injections, given 21 days apart. Those who receive the first dose on Wednesday are scheduled to return for their second dose on Jan 20 next year.
Vaccinations will subsequently be rolled out to more healthcare institutions.
This will be followed by vaccinations for the elderly - starting with those aged 70 years and above - from February. Thereafter, other Singaporeans and long-term residents who are medically eligible for vaccinations can do so.
The vaccine will be free for all Singaporeans and long-term residents, including long-term work permit holders.
Singapore entered Phase 3 of its reopening on Monday. Social gatherings of up to eight people are now allowed in public, up from the previous five currently. Similarly, households can receive up to eight visitors.
Worship services are now allowed to have up to 250 people, and capacity limits in public places such as malls and attractions have been increased as well.