SINGAPORE: A Singapore Airlines (SIA) cabin crew member on a turnaround flight was among the 11 new imported COVID-19 cases reported in Singapore on Tuesday (Feb 9).
The 41-year-old Singaporean woman also tested preliminarily positive for the B117 strain, and is pending further confirmatory tests, said the Ministry of Health (MOH).
The cabin crew member had departed Singapore on Jan 30 on a turnaround flight to the UAE. She did not disembark from the aircraft and returned on Feb 1.
She developed "anosmia" on Feb 4, said MOH, referring to the loss of smell, but she did not seek medical attention.
On Feb 7, she was tested for COVID-19 as part of Singapore's requirement for air crew to be tested following their return from overseas.
"Her pooled test result came back positive for COVID-19 on Feb 8, and she was conveyed to the National Centre for Infectious Diseases for an individual swab, and isolated," said MOH, adding that her test result came back positive the next day.
The woman's serology test result is negative, indicating that this is likely a current infection.
Her previous test on Jan 22 after another turnaround flight was negative for COVID-19.
Four other passengers on the same flight as the cabin crew member previously tested positive for COVID-19 and are also preliminarily positive for the B117 strain.
"In view of her recent travel history, and the possibility that she might have been infected onboard the flight, we have preliminarily classified this case as imported," said MOH.
The ministry added that the cabin crew member received her first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine on Feb 2.
"As the vaccine does not contain live virus, she could not have been infected due to vaccination," it noted. "It is possible for one to be infected just before or just after vaccination as it typically takes a few weeks for an individual to build up immunity after completing vaccination."
Epidemiological investigations are ongoing.
In the meantime, all her identified close contacts, including her family members and co-workers, have been isolated and placed on quarantine. They will be tested at the start and end of their quarantine period.
"We will also conduct serological tests for the close contacts to determine if the case could have been infected by them," said MOH.
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The other 10 imported cases were placed on stay-home notice upon arrival in Singapore.
One of them is a Singaporean who returned from the UAE, while another is a dependant's pass holder who arrived from India.
Three are student's pass holders who arrived from India, Indonesia and Russia.
Three are foreign domestic workers who arrived from the Philippines and Indonesia.
The two remaining cases are short-term visit pass holders. One of them arrived from Indonesia to visit her Singaporean spouse. The other arrived from Bangladesh as a caregiver to her spouse who was already receiving medical care in Singapore.
No new locally transmitted cases were reported in the community or in foreign worker dormitories.
TWENTY-TWO MORE CASES DISCHARGED
Another 22 cases have been discharged from hospitals or community isolation facilities, taking Singapore's total recoveries to 59,506.
There are 40 cases still in hospital. Most of them are stable or improving, and one person is in critical condition in the intensive care unit.
A total of 157 patients are isolated and cared for at community facilities.
Two places were added to the list of locations visited by COVID-19 cases in the community during their infectious period - Oasis Terraces at Punggol Drive and Ci Yuan Hawker Centre at Hougang Avenue 9.
As of Tuesday, Singapore has reported a total of 59,732 COVID-19 cases.
TIGHTER RESTRICTIONS FOR VIETNAM TRAVELLERS
Earlier, the Health Ministry announced that Singapore will tighten its border measures for people with travel history to Vietnam, given the increase in the number of COVID-19 cases there.
From 11.59pm on Friday, Singaporeans, permanent residents and long-term pass holders arriving in Singapore with travel history to Vietnam in the 14 days prior to departure will have to take an on-arrival COVID-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test, serve a 14-day stay-home notice at dedicated facilities and undergo a PCR test before the end of the notice period.
Currently, travellers from Vietnam will be allowed to go about their activities in Singapore without the need to serve a stay-home notice if their on-arrival COVID-19 test result is negative.
Short-term travellers with an Air Travel Pass (ATP) with travel history to Vietnam within the last 14 days before departure for Singapore will not be allowed to enter Singapore.
All travellers who are not Singaporeans or permanent residents will need to take a COVID-19 PCR test within 72 hours before departure. These travellers will still be required to undergo an on-arrival test and serve their stay-home notice upon arrival and be tested at the end of the isolation period.
Meanwhile, measures for travellers from New South Wales will be adjusted, with the situation in the Australian state improving
From 11.59pm on Wednesday, Singaporeans, permanent residents and long-term pass holders returning from New South Wales will be able to take a COVID-19 PCR test upon arrival at the airport in lieu of a seven-day stay-home notice. If the result is negative, they will be allowed to go about their activities in Singapore, said MOH.
Short-term visitors travelling from New South Wales can apply for an ATP for entry into Singapore on or after Feb 16. ATP holders must also take a PCR test on arrival in lieu of a seven-day stay-home notice, and will be allowed to go about their activities in the country if the test is negative.