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New COVID-19 cluster in Singapore linked to imported case who was 'probably reinfected' in India

The Ministry of Health said it is reviewing Singapore's border measures for recovered travellers, and will closely monitor for reinfection of recovered COVID-19 cases.

New COVID-19 cluster in Singapore linked to imported case who was 'probably reinfected' in India

A traveller walks past duty free shops at the transit area of Changi International Airport terminal in Singapore on Dec 7, 2020. (Photo: AFP/Roslan RAHMAN)

SINGAPORE: A new local COVID-19 cluster involving three cases has been linked to a man who was "probably reinfected" in India, the Ministry of Health (MOH) said on Tuesday (Apr 20).

Case 61536, a 43-year-old Indian national and work pass holder, arrived in Singapore from India on Apr 2. 

He tested positive for COVID-19 in an on-arrival swab test and was taken to a hospital. He was discharged four days later on Apr 6, without being required to further isolate, as he was deemed to be no longer infectious, said MOH.

He then infected two others – his sister-in-law and her husband, according to MOH.

MINUTE FRAGMENTS OF VIRUS

MOH said Case 61536 was discharged based on his high Ct value that indicated a low viral load, a positive serology test result on Apr 4 that indicated a past infection, as well as a negative pre-departure test taken on Mar 31.

He was deemed to have been shedding minute fragments of the virus, which were no longer transmissible and infective to others, the ministry said.

His sister-in-law, identified as Case 62045, is a 41-year-old accountant who was confirmed to have COVID-19 on Apr 16. Her husband, identified as Case 62143, was confirmed to have COVID-19 on Apr 18. He is a manager of two restaurants.

The couple are permanent residents and were reported as community cases. 

"LIKELY REINFECTED"

After his sister-in-law tested positive for COVID-19, Case 61536 was identified as her close contact. He was sent for a COVID-19 test on Apr 17, with the results coming back positive.

After consulting an expert panel comprising infectious diseases and microbiology experts, MOH assessed that he was likely reinfected with COVID-19 recently.

"Our epidemiological investigations indicate that Case 61536 was probably reinfected when he was in India, and had been infectious when he returned to Singapore. He then passed the infection to Cases 62045 and 62143," it added.

READ: Singapore tightens COVID-19 rules for travellers from India, cuts entry approvals for non-Singaporeans and PRs

MOH said that with the emergence of "new variants of concern" around the world, it will closely monitor for reinfection of recovered COVID-19 cases.

The ministry is reviewing Singapore's border measures for recovered travellers, it said.

"Similar imported cases suspected of reinfection will be isolated and undergo repeat COVID-19 PCR tests to monitor the trend of their viral loads, to ensure that such cases are detected promptly," said the ministry.

Singapore reported 14 new COVID-19 infections on Tuesday, including one dormitory case.

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Source: CNA/dv(rw)

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