SINGAPORE: Five more COVID-19 patients have been discharged from hospital, said the Ministry of Health (MOH) on Tuesday (Feb 25).
Cases 58, 62, and 81, who are part of the Grace Assembly of God church cluster, were among those discharged, said MOH in a press release. The other two patients are cases 77 and 91.
This brings the total number of fully recovered cases to 58. Of the 33 confirmed cases who are still in hospital, most are stable or improving. Seven are in critical condition in the intensive care unit.
Case 91 was announced at a press conference earlier on Tuesday as the latest confirmed case, and provided a link between two church clusters.
The 58-year-old Singaporean woman has no recent travel history to China, MOH said in the release.
She reported onset of symptoms on Jan 23 and sought treatment at a general practitioner clinic on Feb 1, Feb 6 and Feb 10.
She was referred by MOH to the National Centre for Infectious Diseases (NCID) on Feb 18 after she was identified as a contact of case 66, who works at Grace Assembly of God church.
Subsequent test results confirmed COVID-19 infection on Saturday afternoon.
Prior to hospital admission, she mostly stayed at her home at Rivervale Drive.
MISSING LINK UNCOVERED
The woman is married to case 83, who is linked to the Life Church and Missions. Two Chinese nationals (cases 8 and 9) had attended the Life Church and Missions on Jan 19, the same day as the married couple.
The couple then attended a Chinese New Year gathering on Jan 25 with case 66.
"This meant that cases 83 and 91 likely got infected from cases 8 and 9, and went on to pass the infection to case 66 at the Chinese New Year gathering on Jan 25. Case 66 subsequently passed the infection to his colleagues at Grace Assembly of God,” MOH said.
The health ministry determined that case 66 was the primary case of the Grace Assembly of God church cluster.
MOST PATIENTS RECOVER ON THEIR OWN
Health Minister Gan Kim Yong said at a press conference on Tuesday that most COVID-19 patients recover on their own and "without much treatment". They are kept in the hospital mainly for isolation and monitoring, he added.
MOH director of medical services Associate Professor Kenneth Mak said they are still learning about the "natural history" of the infection and how it affects a person.
"Until we fully understand the nature and cause of this illness, we prefer to err on the side of safety for the population, therefore put them in isolation until we are absolutely convinced they are free from infection before we return them to society," he added.
Assoc Prof Mak said there will come a time when the authorities will have the confidence to let patients with mild symptoms rest at home, instead of needing them to be isolated in hospital for long periods of time.
"It is difficult to tell you when that would occur, but it would be important for us to have a better understanding, confidence of the nature of this illness - how it spreads, how it affects people - before we have that confidence to do so (rest at home)," he added.
"It may very well be a reality that only ill, very ill patients with COVID-19 in the future might then be admitted in hospital with the majority staying at home to recover, not different from a person with a mild common cold."
As of Tuesday noon, the ministry has identified 2,846 close contacts who have been quarantined.
Of these, 371 are currently quarantined, and 2,475 have completed their quarantine.
In view of the rapidly developing situation in South Korea, Singapore announced on Tuesday it will impose travel restrictions on visitors from South Korea’s Cheongdo county and Daegu city with effect from Wednesday at 11.59pm, authorities announced at a press conference earlier.
South Korea has reported 977 confirmed cases as of Tuesday afternoon.