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4 new COVID-19 cases, including Grab driver, test 'preliminarily positive' for B1617 variant from India

4 new COVID-19 cases, including Grab driver, test 'preliminarily positive' for B1617 variant from India

File photo of a Grab car. (Photo: Facebook/Grab)

SINGAPORE: A Grab driver, a property risk assessment employee, a cleaner and an auxiliary police officer at Changi Airport Terminal 3 have tested "preliminarily positive" for the B1617 variant of the coronavirus - a variant that was first detected in India. 

The four cases are among 10 new community cases reported in Singapore on Sunday (May 9) and are pending further confirmatory tests, said the Ministry of Health (MOH). 

GRAB DRIVER

Case 62969 is a 38-year-old Singaporean who works as a private-hire driver with Grab and is not linked to previous cases.

He has not worked since the onset of symptoms, said the Health Ministry. On May 7, the man developed a fever and cough. He sought medical treatment on the same day at a clinic, where he was tested for COVID-19. 

His test result came back positive the next day and he was taken in an ambulance to Alexandra Hospital. His serological test result is negative. 

Private-hire drivers were among the first groups to be vaccinated against COVID-19 in Singapore. The vaccination exercise for more than 50,000 taxi and private-hire drivers began in February this year.

MOH did not specify whether Case 62969 received the vaccination.

The man lives with his girlfriend who is a short-term visit pass holder who arrived from Vietnam on Apr 12, said MOH. She served her stay-home notice at a dedicated facility until Apr 26. 

Her test taken on Apr 25 was negative for COVID-19.

READ: COVID-19 virus variants from India detected in Singapore: What you need to know

PROPERTY RISK ASSESSMENT OFFICER

The second case is a 40-year-old Singaporean woman who works as a risk assessment officer at Lendlease. She is not linked to previous cases.

Identified as Case 62998, she has been working from home since Apr 30, said MOH. 

She developed a fever on May 7 and sought medical treatment on the same day at a clinic, where she was tested for COVID-19. 

Her test result came back positive the next day and she was taken in an ambulance to Khoo Teck Puat Hospital. 

Her serological test result is negative.

Responding to CNA queries, Lendlease said the employee was last at PLQ3 on Apr 28 and 29.  PLQ3, one of Lendlease's properties, is a retail, office and residential building in Paya Lebar.

"Following the incident, we have completed deep cleaning of all affected common areas in adherence to NEA guidelines," said Lendlease. "Employees are by default working from home until the end of the month."

CHANGI AIRPORT CLEANER

The third case is a 51-year-old work permit holder who is employed by Ramky Cleantech Services as a cleaner and deployed at Changi Airport Terminal 3. 

The woman, who is identified as Case 62971, is a colleague of Case 62873 - an 88-year-old cleaner employed by Ramky Cleantech Services who also worked at Terminal 3. 

The 51-year-old had last gone to work on May 3.

She was tested on May 5 as part of rostered routine testing but her pooled test result came back "inconclusive" and she was tested again on May 7, said MOH. 

READ: Indian COVID-19 variant found in at least 17 countries: WHO

On the same day, she was contacted by MOH and placed on phone surveillance after she was identified as a colleague of Case 62873. 

On May 7 night, she developed a cough and a headache and she sought medical treatment the next day at a polyclinic. 

Her test result came back positive for COVID-19 on the same day and she was taken in an ambulance to Gleneagles Hospital.

The woman’s earlier tests from rostered routine testing - the last being on Apr 21 - were all negative for COVID-19. Her serology test result is negative.

CHANGI AIRPORT AUXILIARY POLICE OFFICER

The fourth case, Case 62972, is a 57-year-old Singaporean auxiliary police officer who is employed by Certis Cisco and works at Changi Airport Terminal 3.

The man’s job entails maintaining crowd control and checking travellers’ documents and he has not gone to work since the onset of symptoms, MOH said.

READ: About 9,000 to be tested as Changi Airport steps up COVID-19 precautionary measures

The man developed a cough on May 7 and sought medical treatment at a general practitioner clinic, where he was tested for COVID-19.

His test result came back positive for COVID-19 the next day and he was taken in an ambulance to Alexandra Hospital.

His earlier tests from rostered routine testing - the last being on May 2 - were all negative. His serological test result is negative.

The man received his first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine on Feb 15 and the second dose on Mar 8.

COVID-19 VARIANTS EMERGING

As of May 3, 29 local cases were identified to be infected with variants that were first detected in other countries, MOH said last week.

"The new variant strains have higher attack rates, they are more infectious, they are causing larger clusters than before," said Education Minister Lawrence Wong, who co-chairs the COVID-19 multi-ministry task force.

"Due to the new variants, (the cases) are more infectious and larger clusters are forming."

Other COVID-19 variants in Singapore include the B11281 variant that was first detected in Brazil, the B1351 variant first detected in South Africa and two variants - B117 and B1525 - first found in the United Kingdom.

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Source: CNA/ec(mi)

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