SINGAPORE: Singapore has confirmed its first COVID-19 case carrying the potentially more contagious strain of the virus circulating in the United Kingdom, the Ministry of Health (MOH) said on Wednesday (Dec 23).
The case confirmed to be carrying the B117 strain is known as Case 58504. She is a 17-year-old female who had been studying in the UK since August.
She returned to Singapore on Dec 6 and served her stay-home notice at a dedicated facility upon arrival.
The student developed a fever on Dec 7, and was confirmed to have COVID-19 infection on Dec 8, said MOH. She was included among the imported cases reported on that day.
"All her close contacts had been placed on quarantine, and had tested negative for COVID-19 infection at the end of their quarantine period," said MOH.
"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."
The ministry added that there is "currently no evidence that the B117 strain is circulating in the community".
"All the cases had been placed on 14-day (stay-home notice) at dedicated facilities or isolated upon arrival in Singapore, and their close contacts had been quarantined earlier," said MOH.
ELEVEN CASES "PRELIMINARILY POSITIVE" FOR B117 STRAIN
Singapore's National Public Health Laboratory is performing viral genomic sequencing for confirmed COVID-19 cases who had arrived from Europe recently, said the ministry.
This is "in light of recent reports that the B117 strain, a potentially more contagious strain of the COVID-19 virus, is circulating in the UK".
A total of 31 imported cases from Europe, who arrived in Singapore between Nov 17 and Dec 17, were confirmed to have COVID-19 infection in December.
Case 58504 was among these cases.
Among the remaining 30 cases, 12 were not infected with the B117 strain.
"Five samples cannot be sequenced due to their low viral load, and we are pending confirmatory results for another 11 cases who are preliminarily positive for the B117 strain," said MOH.
Two cases have not been tested so far, said the ministry.
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NEW BORDER MEASURES
Long-term pass holders and short-term visitors who have been to the UK in the last 14 days are not allowed to enter or transit through Singapore from 11.59pm on Wednesday.
This follows "recent reports of a potentially more contagious strain of the COVID-19 virus circulating in the UK", said MOH when announcing the measures on Tuesday.
"To reduce the risk of spread to Singapore, we are putting in place new border restrictions for travellers from UK for further precaution," said the ministry then.
Under the new measures, returning Singapore citizens and permanent residents will be required to undergo a COVID-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test upon arrival in Singapore, at the start of their 14-day stay-home notice.
Singapore reported 21 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, bringing the case total to 58,482.