SINGAPORE: Four community cases were among the 30 new COVID-19 infections reported in Singapore as of noon on Tuesday (Jan 19).
Two of the community infections are linked to a previous case, forming a new cluster.
The cluster involving the police para-vet, meanwhile, has grown to seven cases, after an eight-year-old boy tested positive for the coronavirus.
There were no cases reported in foreign workers' dormitories, said the Ministry of Health (MOH).
Twenty-six of the new cases are imported infections and were placed on stay-home notice upon arrival.
NEW COVID-19 CLUSTER
Two of the new community cases have been linked to Case 59343, a food processing worker at Golden Bridge Foods Manufacturing who tested positive last week.
The first of the two is a 31-year-old work permit holder who is a co-worker and housemate of Case 59343. Both are Chinese nationals.
The 31-year-old man had been identified as a close contact of Case 59343 and was placed on quarantine on Jan 15. He was tested on Jan 17 during quarantine even though he was asymptomatic, and his result came back positive for COVID-19 infection the next day.
He was then taken to the National Centre for Infectious Diseases (NCID).
His serological test result is negative, indicating that this is likely a current infection, said MOH.
The second case is 48-year-old work permit holder who is the wife of Case 59343.
The Chinese national is a food processing worker at Soon Lee Heng Satay Foodstuff Manufacturer, located at 15 Woodlands Loop.
She was placed on quarantine on Jan 15 and tested on Jan 17, even though she is asymptomatic.
Her infection was confirmed the next day.
Her serological test result is negative.
CLUSTER LINKED TO POLICE K-9 UNIT GROWS
The third community case is an 8-year-old Singaporean boy linked to the cluster involving the police K-9 unit para-veterinarian.
He is a student at Chua Chu Kang Primary School and had last gone to school on Jan 15. He was placed on quarantine on Jan 16.
"He was swabbed on the same day and his result came back negative for COVID-19," said MOH. "There is therefore no risk of transmission to the students he had contact with previously."
However, the boy developed a fever on Jan 17 while he was in quarantine, and was tested again at KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital. This test came back positive for COVID-19 infection.
His serological test result is negative.
This cluster now has a total of seven confirmed infections.
The fourth case is a 39-year-old permanent resident who works as a sales personnel at BS Industrial & Construction Supply, located at 34 Kallang Place.
He developed a fever on Jan 16 and sought treatment at a polyclinic on Jan 18, where he was tested for COVID-19 as part of MOH's enhanced community testing.
His test result came back positive for COVID-19 infection on the same day, and he was taken to NCID.
His serological test result has come back negative.
Epidemiological investigations are ongoing, said MOH, adding that all identified close contacts of the cases, including their family members, household members and co-workers, have been isolated and placed on quarantine. Serological and COVID-19 tests will also be conducted for them.
MOH added that the overall number of new cases in the community has increased from six cases in the week before to 14 cases in the past week.
The number of unlinked cases in the community has increased from four cases in the week before to five cases in the past week.
MOH also added several new places to its list of locations visited by cases in the community during their infectious period - Church of Singapore, Marina Square and Gain City Megastore @ Sungei Kadut.
4 CITIZENS AMONG IMPORTED CASES
Among the 26 imported COVID-19 infections, there are four Singaporeans and three permanent residents who returned from Indonesia, Ireland, Myanmar and UK.
Two are student's pass holders who arrived from Bulgaria and Malaysia.
One is a work pass holder who travelled from the UAE
The remaining 16 cases are work permit holders who arrived from Bangladesh, India and Indonesia, of whom three are foreign domestic workers.
Case 59415, a work permit holder, arrived from Bangladesh on Dec 28, 2020. He served his stay-home notice at a dedicated facility until Jan 11, 2021.
He tested negative thrice for COVID-19 - on Jan 8, Jan 12 and Jan 14. However, his test on Jan 17 positive for COVID-19 infection. The Ct value on the latest test was very high, which is indicative of a low viral load.
His serological test result has also come back positive.
"Given that these indicate likely past infection, we have classified the case as imported," said MOH.
"He is likely to be shedding minute fragments of the virus RNA, which are no longer transmissible and infective to others."
One of the imported Singaporean cases is a 28-year-old who had returned from Ireland on Jan 3.
She was placed on stay-home notice at a dedicated facility, and tested negative for COVID-19 on Jan 14. However, she developed a dry throat later that day, and cough on Jan 16, but did not report her symptoms.
After her stay-home notice ended on Jan 17, she sought medical treatment at the National University Hospital a day later and was tested for COVID-19. Her result came back positive on the same day.
Twenty-six more cases have been discharged from hospitals or community isolation facilities, bringing Singapore's total recoveries to 58,894.
There are 45 cases still in hospital. Most of them are stable or improving, and none is in the intensive care unit. Another 189 are being isolated and cared for at community facilities.
As of Tuesday, Singapore has reported a total of 59,157 COVID-19 cases.
READ: COVID-19: Pilot for reopening of nightclubs, karaoke outlets delayed amid rise in community cases
VIRUS STILL CIRCULATING SILENTLY WITHIN COMMUNITY: LAWRENCE WONG
Minister for Education Lawrence Wong said on Monday that authorities are seeing more new infected cases in the community in recent days.
"For the first time in several months we have a local cluster linked to a police para-vet. Unfortunately there were also several recent cases who did not seek medical treatment despite falling ill with flu-like symptoms," he said in a Facebook post.
Mr Wong, who also co-chairs the COVID-19 multi-ministry task force, said contact tracers are working hard to identify all the possible contacts, ring fence potential cases and prevent them from spreading further.
"We are also monitoring the situation carefully and considering if additional measures are necessary to ensure the infection remains under control," he said.
"Meanwhile please cooperate with all the safe management measures - wear your masks, see a doctor when sick, and do your part to reduce transmission risks. The virus is still circulating silently within our community and we cannot afford to let our guard down."
PILOT FOR REOPENING OF NIGHTCLUBS, KARAOKE OUTLETS DELAYED
Amid an increase in the number of community cases, a pilot programme for some nightclubs and karaoke outlets to reopen with COVID-19 safety measures in place has been deferred until further notice.
This is to prevent the risk of further community transmission and formation of clusters in high-risk settings such as nightclubs and karaoke outlets, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) and the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) said on Tuesday.
Such settings entail people coming into close contact for prolonged periods of time and in enclosed spaces, the ministries added.
The pilot for nightclubs and karaoke outlets was to have started this month. Authorities had chosen two nightclubs and 10 karaoke outlets to participate in the pilot, out of a total of eight nominations for nightclubs and 15 for karaoke outlets.
The ministries said it was uncertain when the pilot would be able to commence, given the "dynamic public health situation". Agencies will review the commencement of the pilots at a suitable juncture, they added.