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Singapore

Additional COVID-19 measures for marine sector after recent cases form family clusters

Additional COVID-19 measures for marine sector after recent cases form family clusters

File photo of ships off the Singapore coast. (Photo: AFP/Roslan Rahman)

SINGAPORE: The Health Ministry (MOH) said on Thursday (Dec 31) it would begin "special testing operations" to test those who had boarded the vessels on which two COVID-19 cases recently worked. 

Harbour pilots, marine surveyors and ship repair workers will also be tested for the coronavirus "in the coming days", said MOH, regardless of their rostered routine testing schedule. 

"The relevant authorities will also review the need to tighten our precautionary measures for these workers," the ministry added.

The two COVID-19 cases referred to by MOH comprise a marine surveyor at Lloyd's Register Singapore and a PSA Marine harbour pilot.

The marine surveyor, a 46-year-old Singapore permanent resident, works on board vessels at Sembcorp Marine Admiralty Yard.

The harbour pilot is a 55-year-old Singaporean based at PSA Marine at 70 West Coast Ferry Road, whose work involves boarding vessels to navigate them through congested waters.

NEW FAMILY CLUSTERS 

The harbour pilot tested positive for COVID-19 on Dec 30 after rostered routine testing conducted on Dec 28. He was taken to the National Centre for Infectious Diseases (NCID) in an ambulance, MOH said.

His serological test result came back negative, indicating that he likely had a current infection. His earlier tests from rostered routine testing had come back negative, with the last conducted on Dec 12.

"He stays at Marine Crescent and often visited his relatives who stay in a neighbouring block," MOH said of the harbour pilot. 

"It was revealed that on Dec 13, he had visited Parkway Parade with seven other individuals.

"Investigations are ongoing to assess if there had been any breach of the relevant prevailing safe management measures," the ministry added. 

Two of the harbour pilot's relatives were among the community cases reported on Thursday - a 79-year-old woman and a 50-year-old man. Both are Singaporeans and reside in Marine Crescent. 

"On Dec 28, both cases developed acute respiratory infection symptoms but did not seek medical treatment," MOH said.

They were both placed on quarantine on Dec 30 after they had been identified as close contacts of the harbour pilot. 

"As they were already symptomatic, they were conveyed to NCID in ambulances and subsequently tested positive for COVID-19 infection," MOH said.

Family members of the earlier reported marine surveyor were also among Thursday's community cases. 

One case is a freelance florist working in her home at Ghim Moh Road. She is 46 and a Singapore permanent resident. The woman was identified as the marine surveyor's contact on Dec 29 and was placed on home quarantine the next day. That same day, she developed symptoms and was taken to NCID in an ambulance. Her test result came back positive for COVID-19 on Dec 31. 

The other case linked to the marine surveyor is a 14-year-old Raffles Girls' School student, also a Singapore permanent resident. She was identified as a close contact on Dec 29 and was placed on home quarantine on the same day as the florist. She was taken along to NCID on Dec 30 and tested, with the result coming back positive for COVID-19 the next day. That same day, she began developing symptoms. 

The student's last day in school was Dec 23. 

All those identified as close contacts of the cases, including family members and co-workers, have been isolated and placed on quarantine, said MOH.

READ: Singapore reports 5 COVID-19 community cases, the highest in 4 months; 30 new infections in total

Singapore reported 30 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, five of which were community infections. This is the largest number of community cases reported in Singapore in about four months. 

The last time Singapore reported more than five community cases was on Aug 30, with eight community cases.

Of the new cases reported on Thursday, 25 were imported and were placed on stay-home notice or isolated upon their arrival in Singapore. Of the imported cases, five are Singaporeans or permanent residents while nine are foreign domestic workers. 

SINGAPORE ROLLS OUT VACCINES

Singapore began its COVID-19 vaccination exercise on Wednesday, with healthcare workers at the National Centre for Infectious Diseases the first to get the shots.

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine requires two injections, given 21 days apart. Those who receive the first dose on Wednesday are scheduled to return for their second dose on Jan 20 next year.

READ: NCID nurse becomes first person in Singapore to receive COVID-19 vaccine

READ: 'COVID-19 vaccine gives me assurance I can go home safely to my kids': NCID nurse

Vaccinations will subsequently be rolled out to more healthcare institutions.

This will be followed by vaccinations for the elderly - starting with those aged 70 years and above - from February. Thereafter, other Singaporeans and long-term residents who are medically eligible for vaccinations can do so.

The vaccine will be free for all Singaporeans and long-term residents, including long-term work permit holders.

On Monday, the country entered Phase 3 of its reopening after a "circuit breaker" period to curb the spread of COVID-19. Social gatherings of up to eight people are allowed in this phase and sports such as basketball, football, sepak takraw, hockey and volleyball can now resume with a 4v4 format.

As of Thursday, Singapore has reported a total of 58,599 COVID-19 cases.

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Source: CNA/hs/kg

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