SINGAPORE: Four community cases were among the 40 new COVID-19 infections reported in Singapore as of noon on Wednesday (Jan 20), said the Ministry of Health (MOH).
Thirty-six cases of the new cases were imported infections and placed on stay home notice upon arrival in Singapore.
There were no cases reported in foreign workers' dormitories.
NEW CLUSTER FORMED, 2 CASES WENT TO WORK DESPITE SYMPTOMS
Three of the four community cases reported on Wednesday worked at BS Industrial & Construction Supply at 34 Kallang Place, forming a cluster.
The first case, a 27-year-old Malaysian man, works as a sales personnel. The man, known as Case 59455, is a work pass holder and is a co-worker of a previously confirmed case, Case 59429 - a 39-year-old Singapore permanent resident who is also a sales personnel. He was confirmed to have COVID-19 on Jan 18.
The 27-year-old man developed a sore throat on Jan 14 and loss of smell and taste on Jan 18 but did not seek medical treatment and continued to go to work.
As he had been identified as a close contact of Case 59429, he was contacted by MOH on Jan 18 and taken to Tan Tock Seng Hospital when he reported these symptoms.
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He was tested at the hospital and his test result came back positive for COVID-19 infection the next day. His serology test result has come back negative, indicating that this is likely a current infection.
Another community case, a 29-year-old Malaysian woman, also worked at BS Industrial & Construction Supply as a sales personnel. The work pass holder, known as Case 59456, is also a co-worker of Case 59429.
MOH said she developed a sore throat and difficulty breathing on Jan 16 but did not seek medical treatment and continued to go to work and interact in the community.
On Jan 18, as she had been identified as a close contact of Case 59429, she was contacted by the health ministry and taken to the National Centre for Infectious Diseases (NCID) and tested for COVID-19 when she reported these symptoms.
Her test result came back positive for COVID-19 the next day. Her serology test result has also come back negative.
"We strongly urge everyone to do their part to reduce the risk of transmission. Those who are unwell, including those showing early/mild symptoms, should be socially responsible and seek medical attention immediately and stay at home to prevent the spread of illness to others," said the health ministry.
The third case linked to BS Industrial & Construction Supply on Wednesday is a 28-year-old Malaysian woman. The work pass holder, known as Case 59474, works as a finance personnel.
She developed a cough on Jan 19. On the same day, she was placed on quarantine as a close contact of Case 59429, and was taken to Tan Tock Seng Hospital when she reported her symptom.
She subsequently tested positive for COVID-19 infection, and was warded at NCID on the same day. Her serology test is also negative.
The health ministry said investigations are ongoing to assess if there was any breach of the relevant prevailing safe management measures at their workplace. The Government takes a serious view of any breach and will take actions should there be non-compliance, added MOH.
The Case 59429 cluster at BS Industrial & Construction Supply now has a total of four infections.
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The remaining community case is a 46-year-old Indian national. The man, known as Case 59473, works as a software engineer at APAR Technologies at 4 Shenton Way.
He had travelled to India between Mar 9 and Oct 29 last year, and the United Arab Emirates between Oct 29 and Nov 13.
He served stay-home notice at a dedicated facility upon his return to Singapore until Nov 27 and his swab done on Nov 23 was negative for COVID- 19.
MOH said the work pass holder is asymptomatic, and was detected when he took a COVID-19 pre-departure test on Jan 19 in preparation for a trip back to India.
His result came back positive for COVID-19 infection the next day and he was taken to NCID. His Ct value is "very high", which is indicative of a low viral load, and his serology test result has come back positive.
INCREASE IN UNLINKED COMMUNITY CASES: MOH
MOH said the overall number of new cases in the community has increased from four cases in the week before to 18 cases in the past week.
The number of unlinked cases in the community has also increased from two cases in the week before to six cases in the past week.
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Among the 213 confirmed cases reported from Jan 14 to Jan 20, 118 cases have tested positive for their serology tests and 36 have tested negative while 59 serology test results are pending, said MOH.
The health ministry also added the National Museum of Singapore and several shopping malls to its list of locations visited by cases in the community during their infectious period.
Also on the list were popular eateries such as Prata Wala at Jurong Point, Brewerkz at Riverside Point and S111 Eating House in Kallang.
7 FOREIGN DOMESTIC WORKERS AMONG IMPORTED INFECTIONS
A Singaporean and a permanent resident who returned from Canada and India were among the 36 imported cases reported on Wednesday.
There was also a dependant's pass holder and a long-term visit pass holder who both arrived from India.
Four are student's pass holders who arrived from India, Indonesia, the UAE and Slovak Republic while four others are work pass holders from India and Ireland.
Twenty are work permit holders who arrived from Bangladesh, India, Indonesia and Myanmar, of whom seven are foreign domestic workers.
The remaining four cases are short-term visit pass holders. Two arrived from India to visit their Singaporean relatives while two others arrived from Myanmar and the United States for work assignments in Singapore.
32 MORE PATIENTS DISCHARGED
Thirty-two more cases have been discharged from hospitals or community isolation facilities, bringing Singapore's total recoveries to 58,926.
There are 45 cases still in hospital. Most of them are stable or improving, and one is in the intensive care unit. Another 197 are being isolated and cared for at community facilities.
As of Wednesday, Singapore has reported a total of 59,197 COVID-19 cases.
GOVERNMENT 'MONITORING SITUATION'
Minister for Education Lawrence Wong said on Monday that authorities have seen more new infected cases in the community in recent days.
"We are also monitoring the situation carefully and considering if additional measures are necessary to ensure the infection remains under control," he said.
Since Jan 13, seven community cases have been linked to a police K-9 unit.
On Tuesday, two of the newly reported community cases were linked to a food processing worker at Golden Bridge Foods Manufacturing who tested positive last week, forming a new cluster.
Amid an increase in the number of community cases, a pilot programme for some nightclubs and karaoke outlets to reopen has been deferred until further notice.
This is to prevent the risk of further community transmission and formation of clusters in "high-risk settings", said the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Ministry of Trade and Industry on Tuesday.
Such settings entail people coming into close contact for prolonged periods of time and in enclosed spaces, the ministries added.
The ministries said it was uncertain when the pilot would be able to start given the "dynamic public health situation", and that it would review the start of the pilot at a suitable juncture.