SINGAPORE: Several measures have been taken at the National University of Singapore (NUS) after the Ministry of Health (MOH) announced on Thursday (Feb 13) that a professor was one of eight new cases infected with COVID-19 in Singapore.
The 54-year-old male professor, who has no travel history to China, is linked to the cluster associated with the Grace Assembly of God churches.
In a letter to students, NUS President Tan Eng Chye said that the university had "thoroughly disinfected" the areas the professor visited at the School of Design and Environment (SDE), where he works.
"Upon being alerted that he was confirmed to be infected, we thoroughly disinfected the areas the professor had used or visited in SDE on Feb 10 before he developed symptoms," said Prof Tan.
"These include all high traffic areas such as hand railings, lifts, and lift lobbies around the affected premises.
"We have immediately ramped up the frequency of cleaning at SDE, including enhanced cleaning from once to twice a day for the school’s studios and high traffic areas.
"We have also increased the cleaning frequency of restrooms in SDE from twice a day to four times a day."
Dean of students Associate Professor Leong Ching in a statement added that staff members who interacted with the professor have been put on a mandatory Leave of Absence (LOA), even though they have not been identified as close contacts by MOH.
"They are healthy and show no symptoms. They are no different from other students and staff who are on LOA," she added.
"NUS’ response measures are swift and already exceed those required by MOH."
All classes at the SDE will also be made available via e-learning. Classes which cannot go online will be suspended for seven days starting from Friday, with professors and instructors encouraged to provide e-learning alternatives.
Among measures NUS has taken since the COVD-19 outbreak is to discipline anyone who breaches control measures such as LOA; having twice daily temperature checks for all staff and students; cancelling or delaying events and activities involving more than 50 people.
LAST CONTACT WITH STUDENTS WAS ON FEB 5
In his letter, Prof Tan said that the professor declared his temperature in line with the university's requirements on Monday, and was well with no symptoms.
He then attended a meeting with other SDE colleagues, and went home in the afternoon. He developed symptoms later that night and did not return to campus, wrote Prof Tan.
"The professor did not have any recent contact with students. His last contact with students was on Feb 5. I am grateful that the professor alerted us as soon as he was informed that he was suspected to be infected with COVID-19.
"This allowed us to swiftly trace the professor’s activities and people he came into contact with, before official confirmation was received, and to immediately ask those who had been in close contact with the professor to isolate themselves at home, as a precautionary measure. None of them are students," wrote Prof Tan, adding that these individuals are on a mandatory 14-day leave of absence, and are well with no symptoms.
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Another eight cases of COVID-19 was confirmed by MOH on Thursday, all of which are connected to previous patients.
Five of the new cases are linked to the Grace Assembly of God cluster, while two are linked to the cluster at Seletar Aerospace Heights construction site.
One of the new cases is a family member of a DBS employee, who tested positive for the coronavirus on Wednesday.
Contact tracing is under way for the other seven locally transmitted cases to establish any links to previous cases or travel history to mainland China.
Additional reporting by Ang Hwee Min.