SINGAPORE: Six patients in Singapore, including four with no recent travel history to China, have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, the Ministry of Health (MOH) announced on Tuesday (Feb 4).
The four cases of local transmission are linked to travellers from China, the ministry said. Another two cases are Singaporeans evacuated from Wuhan on Jan 30.
This brings the total number of confirmed cases in Singapore to 24.
Of the four locally transmitted cases, three had "prolonged interactions" with recent travellers from China. Two of the Chinese travellers have since been confirmed to have been infected with the coronavirus, according to health authorities in China.
"Though four of these cases constitute a local transmission cluster, there is as yet no evidence of widespread sustained community transmission in Singapore," MOH said.
Here is what we know about the six new cases:
A tour group from China had arrived in Singapore on Jan 22. A day later, the group visited a health product shop at 24 Cavan Road in Jalan Besar, among other places.
Case 19 is a 28-year-old Singapore permanent resident who works as a salesperson at Yong Thai Hang, a complementary health product shop that primarily serves Chinese tourists. She has no recent travel history to China.
She reported having a sore throat and fever on Jan 29 and sought treatment at a GP clinic on the same day, MOH said.
She went to Tan Tock Seng Hospital’s (TTSH) emergency department on Jan 30 and was discharged after a chest X-ray came back negative for pneumonia.
She did not leave her home at Jalan Bukit Merah from Jan 31 to Feb 2. On Feb 3, she was admitted to the Singapore General Hospital (SGH) and tested positive for the novel coronavirus past 11pm on the same day.
MOH's director of services Associate Professor Kenneth Mak told reporters that the patient had not met the "case definition" on Jan 30 because she did not have pneumonia when she was checked at TTSH and had no recent travel history to China.
The situation changed on Feb 3 when she went to SGH, where she was diagnosed with pneumonia, Assoc Prof Mak said.
Case 20 is a 48-year-old Singaporean woman who also works as a salesperson at Yong Thai Hang. She has no recent travel history to China.
The woman, who stays at Hougang Street 61, reported onset of symptoms on Jan 25 and was admitted to the National Centre for Infectious Diseases (NCID) on Feb 3. Details of her movements between those dates were not provided.
"Given that she is a colleague of case 19, she was classified as a suspect case and immediately isolated," MOH said in a press release. Test results confirmed the infection on Tuesday morning.
Case 21 is case 19’s domestic helper. The 44-year-old Indonesian national has no recent travel history to China and resided at Jalan Bukit Merah as well.
She reported onset of symptoms on Feb 2 and did not leave her place of residence. She was also admitted to SGH on Feb 3. She was tested positive for the novel coronavirus on Tuesday afternoon.
Case 24 is a 32-year-old Singaporean woman who works as a tour guide and brings groups of tourists to Yong Thai Hang, where cases 19 and 20 are employees. She had no recent travel history to China.
She had no symptoms when she went to NCID on Feb 3, where she was immediately isolated.
Test results confirmed the infection on Tuesday afternoon.
"We are also contacting individuals with profiles similar to the above four cases of local transmission, who had recent close contact with individuals with travel history to mainland China," said MOH.
In an update on Feb 6, MOH said that the woman's husband was tested positive for the virus. Before being isolated at NCID on Feb 4, he stayed at his home at Jalan Bukit Merah and worked as a private hire driver.
He indicated that he had visited Tiong Bahru Plaza, Tiong Bahru Market and Beo Crescent Market and Food Centre.
The risk of infection from transient contact, such as on public transport or in public places, is assessed to be low, MOH has said.
CASES 22 AND 23
Cases 22 and 23 were among the 92 Singaporeans evacuated on Jan 30 from Wuhan, the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak.
They did not have any symptoms when they boarded the Scoot flight and they were put under quarantine upon landing in Singapore.
All Singaporeans who were evacuated from Wuhan were tested for the novel coronavirus. On Monday, cases 22 and 23 tested positive, despite continuing to show no symptoms.
They are warded in isolation rooms at NCID.
On Jan 31, it was announced that all new visitors with recent travel history to mainland China will not be allowed to enter Singapore. These visitors will also not be allowed to transit in Singapore.
Those with Chinese passports, with the exception of Singapore permanent residents (PRs) and long-term pass holders, will also not be allowed to enter Singapore.
The coronavirus has killed more than 400 people and infected more than 20,000 around the world. The World Health Organization has declared the virus outbreak a global emergency.