SINGAPORE: Four COVID-19 cases in Singapore have so far tested positive for the more virulent B117 strain of the coronavirus.
Three of these cases were reported as community infections earlier this month, and MOH confirmed on Tuesday (Jan 26) night they had tested positive for the new variant.
The other case confirmed to have tested positive for the B117 strain is an imported case from December last year.
Besides the four confirmed cases, another 14 cases in Singapore have tested “preliminarily positive” for the new strain. The health ministry has yet to provide an update on their status.
The variant, which was first reported in the UK in November last year, is more transmissible and has been detected in more than 60 countries, said the World Health Organization.
Here is what we know so far about the cases in Singapore:
MOH said on Tuesday that the three previously reported cases - Cases 59028, 59340 and 59351 - tested positive for the B117 variant following whole genome sequencing and phylogenetic analysis. It also said the cases could be linked.
Epidemiological investigations show Cases 59340 and his wife, Case 59351, visited Jewel Changi Airport between 2.35pm and 9.50pm on Dec 31. Meanwhile, Case 59028 was at Changi Airport Terminal 3 on the same day, between 7.48pm and 8.49pm.
HUSBAND AND WIFE
Cases 59340 and 59351 were reported by MOH on Jan 16.
Case 59340 is a 39-year-old Singaporean who works at the Singapore Scouts Association at 1 Bishan Street 12, handling mainly administrative work in the office.
He is also a part-time bus driver with Westpoint Transit who plies specific routes for Cameron (Singapore) and GlaxoSmithKline Tuas.
After developing a fever on Jan 11, he sought medical treatment from a general practitioner via tele-consultation. He went to a polyclinic on Jan 13, where he was tested for COVID-19.
Two days later, he was confirmed to have COVID-19 and taken to the National Centre for Infectious Diseases (NCID). His serological test came back negative, indicating a likely current infection. He had not gone to work after the onset of symptoms, said MOH.
His wife, a 39-year-old Singaporean, developed symptoms on Jan 13 and sought medical treatment at a GP clinic the next day. She was referred to a polyclinic for a COVID-19 test on the same day.
She was also confirmed to have the infection on Jan 15 and taken to NCID.
The woman is an administrative officer at OCBC Tampines Centre One but does not interact with customers. MOH said her last day of work was on Jan 8, before the onset of symptoms.
AZUR RESTAURANT EMPLOYEE
Case 59028 is a Korean work permit holder who works at Azur restaurant at Crowne Plaza Changi Airport.
The 24-year-old’s job entails delivering pre-packed meals to air crew members and hotel guests. He does not interact with diners at Azur, said MOH.
He tested positive for a pooled swab during rostered routine testing on Jan 2, and was tested again on Jan 4. He started to develop acute respiratory infection symptoms on the same day.
His individual test result came back positive for COVID-19 infection on Jan 5, and he later tested preliminarily positive for the B117 variant. was taken to the NCID. His serological test came back negative.
COLLEAGUES AT AZUR INVESTIGATED
There have been two other COVID-19 cases who worked at Azur in similar jobs, and one of them (Case 59084) tested preliminarily positive for the B117 variant.
The 20-year-old Singaporean was identified as a close contact of the Korean work permit holder and was quarantined on Jan 5. After developing acute respiratory infection symptoms on Jan 7, he was swabbed on the same day.
His test came back positive for COVID-19 and he was taken to NCID. MOH said his serological test came back negative.
MOH said on Jan 9 it was investigating the three cases who worked at the restaurant and "cannot exclude" that transmissions could have occurred at the hotel.
FIRST CONFIRMED B117 CASE
The first reported B117 COVID-19 case in Singapore was an imported infection - a 17-year-old Singaporean who had been studying in the UK since August 2020.
She returned to Singapore on Dec 6 and served her stay-home notice at a dedicated facility. After developing a fever the next day, she was confirmed to have COVID-19 on Dec 8.
MOH said on Dec 23 she was found to have the B117 strain.
“All her close contacts had been placed on quarantine, and had tested negative for COVID-19 infection at the end of their quarantine period. As she had been isolated upon arrival in Singapore, we were able to ringfence this case so that there was no further transmission arising from her,” said MOH on Dec 23.
READ: Singapore confirms 1 COVID-19 case carrying UK virus strain, 11 others 'preliminarily positive'
OTHER CASES THAT TESTED PRELIMINARILY POSITIVE FOR B117
MOH said on Dec 23 another 11 cases had tested preliminarily positive for the B117 variant, and were pending confirmatory results.
On Dec 30, MOH reported another two imported cases (58811 and 58809) had tested preliminarily positive for the new variant of the coronavirus.
Case 58811 is a Singaporean pilot who works with Singapore Airlines and had travelled to the UK for work from Dec 19 to Dec 22.
He was tested on Dec 23 as part of rostered routine testing for air crew, and his test came back negative for COVID-19. Three days later, he developed a fever and went to a GP clinic on Dec 27, where he was swabbed.
He was confirmed to have COVID-19 on Dec 29 and taken to NCID. His serological test came back negative.
Another case reported on the same day, Case 58809 is a work pass holder who arrived from the UK on Dec 7 and was placed on a stay-home notice at a dedicated facility.
He tested negative for COVID-19 on Dec 17 and ended his stay-home notice period on Dec 21.
The man developed body ache a day later and acute respiratory infection symptoms on Dec 25, before he was swabbed for COVID-19 on Dec 28 when he sought medical treatment. He was confirmed to have the disease a day later and taken to NCID.