SINGAPORE: Measures have been put in place at Westlite Woodlands dormitory after 17 workers who recovered from COVID-19 tested positive again for the disease, the Ministry of Health (MOH) said in a news release on Thursday (Apr 22).
They were detected following special testing operations at the dormitory, after a 35-year-old Bangladeshi worker staying there was confirmed to have the virus on Monday.
The workers were immediately isolated and taken to the National Centre for Infectious Diseases.
READ: COVID-19: Singapore to disallow entry for all long-term pass holders, short-term visitors with recent travel history to India
To prevent and contain the possible spread of infections, quarantine orders have been imposed on workers at the affected blocks at Westlite Woodlands dormitory. The extent of special testing operations have been expanded to the entire dormitory, MOH said.
Movement out of the dormitory will also be restricted until the testing results are out.
Residents who have recovered from COVID-19 are also no longer exempt from routine testing.
This comes after it was announced that 11 workers at the dormitory had tested for COVID-19 on Wednesday.
The ministry, together with an expert panel comprising infectious diseases and microbiology experts, are investigating if the workers have been re-infected, or if they are “persistent shedders” from their earlier infections.
SOUTH AFRICAN VARIANT
Speaking at a press conference by the multi-ministry task force for COVID-19, the health ministry’s director of medical services Kenneth Mak said the 35-year-old worker had the B1351 variant of the virus, known as the South African variant.
He works in the marine industry and was exposed to potentially infectious sources from ships visiting Singapore, Associate Professor Mak said.
The worker had already received two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Assoc Prof Mak added that none of the 17 who had tested positive for the virus again had been vaccinated before.
Responding to a question on vaccination rates among workers, Assoc Prof Mak also specified that in the construction, marine and process sector, more than 8,000 workers have received the first dose of the vaccine, while about 34,000 workers have received their second dose.
He added that authorities are still working towards vaccinating as many workers as possible.
Second Minister for Manpower Tan See Leng added that after the case was detected, about 30 of this worker’s close contacts and colleagues had been isolated, with all of them placed under quarantine.
One of the people placed under quarantine, who is a roommate of this case, was found to be COVID-19 positive at a dedicated quarantine facility.
In addition, as a precautionary measure, special testing operations were carried out and around 1,200 workers at the dormitory were tested and placed under quarantine.
Watch the full news conference and Q&A session: