SINGAPORE: Four community cases were among the 38 new COVID-19 infections reported in Singapore as of noon on Thursday (Jan 21), said the Ministry of Health (MOH).
Thirty-four cases were imported and of these, 33 had already been placed on stay-home notice or isolated upon arrival in Singapore. The remaining case, a permanent resident, had initially tested negative for COVID-19 upon arrival from the US and was on a controlled itinerary during his stay here.
There were no cases reported in migrant workers' dormitories.
3 MORE CASES LINKED TO LATEST CLUSTER
Three of the four community cases are linked to the BS Industrial & Construction Supply cluster which has grown to seven confirmed infections.
The first case is a 43-year-old Singaporean woman who is the spouse of Case 59429, a 39-year-old Singaporean man who works as a sales personnel at the company. The woman, known as Case 59512, works from home as an online trader and does not physically interact with her clients, said the ministry.
MOH said she was quarantined on Jan 18 when her husband was confirmed to have COVID-19. On Jan 20, she tested positive for the disease even though she was asymptomatic and was taken to the National Centre for Infectious Diseases (NCID). Her serology test result has come back negative, indicating that this is likely a current infection.
READ: 3 more COVID-19 community cases linked to BS Industrial & Construction Supply; cluster now at 7 infections
The second case is a 46-year-old Malaysian woman who works as a sales personnel at Toppan Merrill. Her role does not require her to interact with clients, said the health ministry. The work pass holder, known as Case 59513, is a household contact of Case 59474, a Malaysian woman who works as a finance personnel at BS Industrial & Construction Supply.
The 46-year-old woman developed a blocked nose on Jan 19 and stayed at home for most of the day. As she had been identified as a close contact of a previously confirmed COVID-19 case, she was contacted by MOH on Jan 20 and quarantined.
She reported her symptoms and was taken to Sengkang General Hospital and her COVID-19 test came back positive on the same day. Her serology test result has come back negative as well.
The third case linked to the same cluster is a 35-year-old permanent resident who works at BS Industrial & Construction Supply as a sales personnel, and is a co-worker of Case 59429.
He developed a sore throat on Jan 18 but did not seek medical treatment. As he had been identified as a close contact of Case 59429, he was contacted by MOH on the same day but failed to report his symptom.
On Jan 20, he was tested for COVID-19 while under quarantine. His result came back positive on the same day, and he was subsequently taken to the National University Hospital. His serology test result is pending.
UNLINKED COMMUNITY CASE
The remaining community case reported on Thursday is currently unlinked. The Singaporean man, known as Case 59518, works as a dive personnel at Ocean Works Asia at Block 6, 13 Jalan Terusan in Jurong.
The 42-year-old had travelled to Indonesia for work between Nov 4 and Dec 13 and served his stay-home notice at a dedicated facility upon his return to Singapore until Dec 27. His swab test done on Dec 24 was negative for COVID-19.
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He was asymptomatic and was detected when he took a COVID-19 test on Jan 20 as part of the requirement for shore-based personnel going onboard a vessel. His result came back positive for COVID-19 infection on the same day and he was taken to NCID. His serological test result came back positive.
Given the relatively long time interval between his travel and positive COVID-19 test, MOH said it has classified this as a locally transmitted case.
INCREASE IN COMMUNITY CASES
MOH said the number of new cases in the community has increased from three cases in the week before to 21 cases in the past week.
The number of unlinked cases in the community has also increased from one case in the week before to six cases in the past week.
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Among the 206 confirmed cases reported from Jan 15 to Jan 21, a total of 90 cases have tested positive for their serology tests while 29 have tested negative with 87 serology test results pending.
MOH also added several new locations, including Amoy Street Food Centre and a FairPrice outlet at Joo Chiat Complex, to its list of places visited by COVID-19 cases in the community during their infectious period.
The full list of locations is as follows:
PERMANENT RESIDENT WAS ON "CONTROLLED ITINERARY" BEFORE TESTING POSITIVE
Of the 34 imported cases reported on Thursday, one had initially tested negative for COVID-19 upon arrival in Singapore.
The Singapore permanent resident, known as Case 59517, arrived from the United States on Jan 17 for work purposes and was tested for COVID-19 upon arrival. His test came back negative on the same day, and he was on a "controlled itinerary" for the next few days, said MOH.
On Jan 20, the 56-year-old man took a COVID-19 pre-departure test in preparation for a trip to the United Kingdom. His result came back positive for COVID-19 infection on the same day and he was taken to the hospital.
All the other imported cases had been placed on stay-home notice or isolated upon arrival in Singapore. Among them are a dependant's pass holder who arrived from the United Arab Emirates and a long-term visit pass holder who arrived from the US.
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There were also two work pass holders who arrived from India and the UAE and a short-term visit pass holder who travelled from India to visit her child who is a permanent resident.
Two are special pass holders who are sea crew members. One arrived from Indonesia to board a vessel docked in Singapore while the other arrived onboard a vessel from Indonesia and had not disembarked. He was tested for COVID-19, and taken to the hospital when his result came back positive.
There were also 26 work permit holders who arrived from Bangladesh, India and Indonesia, of whom one is a foreign domestic worker.
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One work permit holder, known as Case 59511, arrived from India on Dec 27 and served his stay-home notice at a dedicated facility until Jan 10. His swab test done on Jan 7 during that period was negative for COVID-19, and subsequent tests on Jan 11 and Jan 13 were also negative.
His test on Jan 19 came back positive for COVID-19 infection, although the Ct value was very high, which is indicative of a low viral load. His serological test result has also come back positive.
MOH said that given that these indicate likely past infection, it has classified the case as imported.
"He is likely to be shedding minute fragments of the virus RNA, which are no longer transmissible and infective to others," added the health ministry.
33 MORE PATIENTS DISCHARGED
Thirty-three more cases have been discharged from hospitals or community isolation facilities, bringing Singapore's total recoveries to 58,959.
There are 43 cases still in hospital. Most of them are stable or improving, and one is in the intensive care unit. Another 204 are being isolated and cared for at community facilities.
As of Thursday, Singapore has reported a total of 59,235 COVID-19 cases.
AUTHORITIES MULL MORE COVID-19 MEASURES AHEAD OF CHINESE NEW YEAR
The authorities are considering introducing new restrictions and safeguards against COVID-19 ahead of the Chinese New Year period, when more intermingling is expected.
This comes as the number of community cases has been “creeping up”, while clusters have been reported for the first time “in quite a long while”, said co-chair of the COVID-19 multi-ministry task force, Education Minister Lawrence Wong.
This could have been due to the higher number of interactions amid the end-of-year festivities, he added.
Mr Wong was speaking to the media on Tuesday with his task force co-chair, Health Minister Gan Kim Yong, to mark one year since Singapore saw its first case of the virus on Jan 23 last year.
Responding to a question on possible rules for New Year visits, Mr Wong said: “There will be potentially a lot more intermingling, a lot more interaction, as has happened over the end of the year during the festive period too.
“Therefore, we are considering now whether or not there might be additional restrictions and safeguards that might be necessary to keep infections under control. Exactly what they are, whether they pertain to house visitations, what kinds of measures – we are still studying, and when we are ready, we will highlight them,” said Mr Wong, without providing further details.