13 new community COVID-19 cases, including operating theatre technician at Ng Teng Fong General Hospital
SINGAPORE: Thirteen community cases were among 25 new COVID-19 infections reported in Singapore as of noon on Tuesday (May 11), said the Ministry of Health (MOH).
Seven of the 13 new community cases are linked to the Changi Airport cluster, while three are unlinked. The remaining three cases are linked to previous cases.
UNLINKED COMMUNITY CASES
Of the three unlinked community cases, one is a 27-year-old Malaysian man who works as a manufacturing operator at Siltronic Singapore.
He had not gone to work after the onset of symptoms. On May 6, he developed body aches and sought medical treatment at a general practitioner clinic on the same day, and he was given two days' medical leave.
On May 8, he developed a fever and cough and sought treatment at another general practitioner clinic at night. He was tested for COVID-19 on May 9, and his result came back positive the next day. His serology test result is negative.
In response to CNA's queries, Siltronic Singapore said on Wednesday that a "small team" of the man's co-workers have since been put on quarantine order.
The work area of the affected staff member and other common areas have been disinfected.
"We continue to apply strict COVID prevention measures to ensure continuity of our operations including precautionary swab tests, team separation protocols, additional cleanings, enforcing social distancing and wearing masks," Siltronic Singapore told CNA.
"At this point in time, there is no impact to our production. Our top priority is the health and safety of our employees, customers, contractors and communities."
The second unlinked case is a 50-year-old permanent resident who works as an IT support staff member at Kulicke and Soffa. He also works part-time as a barista at Starbucks at Plaza Singapura and as a general worker at LBC Express at Lucky Plaza.
He developed a cough and shortness of breath on May 6, but did not seek medical treatment, said MOH.
On the night of May 8, as his symptoms had persisted, he went to a general practitioner clinic, where he was tested for COVID-19 the next day. His test result came back positive on May 10.
His serology test result is negative. He received his first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine on Apr 24 and has not received his second dose.
In response to CNA's queries, Starbucks said on Wednesday that the employee was last at work on May 6.
The store at Plaza Singapura has undergone deep cleaning and will remain closed until further notice, said the company.
The firm stopped cross deployment of employees between stores in April last year to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
"We will continue to monitor the situation and will be taking any necessary actions, including working closely with the local authorities," said Starbucks.
The third unlinked case is a 42-year-old Malaysian man who works as an operating theatre technician at Ng Teng Fong General Hospital (NTFGH).
He returned to Singapore on Jan 10 after a trip to Malaysia, and served his stay-home notice until Jan 24. His test taken on Jan 23 during the stay-home notice period was negative for COVID-19.
He developed a cough on Apr 21, but did not seek medical treatment, said MOH. His cough worsened and on May 10, he sought medical treatment at the hospital’s staff clinic, where he was tested for COVID-19. His test result came back positive on the same day.
"His Ct value was very high, which is indicative of a low viral load and his serology test result has come back positive. He could be shedding minute fragments of the virus RNA from a past infection which are no longer transmissible and infective to others," said the Health Ministry.
"However given that we are not able to definitively conclude when he had been infected, we will take all the necessary public health actions as a precautionary measure."
In a Facebook post early on Wednesday morning, JurongHealth Campus said it has "taken the necessary safety precautions including disinfecting all areas which the staff has been in contact with".
The man is currently warded in an isolation room at the hospital, and his household contacts have been swabbed, JurongHealth Campus added.
He has not been in contact with any known clusters or Tan Tock Seng Hospital staff.
"We will continue to provide full support to our colleague and continue to enforce strict precautionary measures and infection control protocols to keep our patients, visitors and staff safe."
LINKED COMMUNITY CASES
Three community cases reported on Tuesday are linked to previous infections.
The first is a 72-year-old Singaporean who is a retiree. He is a family member and household contact of Case 62969, a 38-year-old Grab driver who tested "preliminarily positive" for the B1617 COVID-19 variant first detected in India.
As he had been identified as a close contact of Case 62969, he was placed on quarantine on May 8. The next day, he developed a cough but did not report his symptoms to MOH.
On May 10, he was tested for COVID-19 during quarantine and his result came back positive the next day. His serology test result is pending. He received his first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine on Feb 23, and the second dose on Mar 16.
The second case is a 48-year-old Singaporean woman who works as a relief school library assistant, but had not gone to work after the onset of symptoms.
She is the wife of Case 63005, a 47-year-old Singaporean man working as a landscaper at NParks.
As she had been identified as a close contact of Case 63005, she was placed on quarantine on May 8, and was tested for COVID-19 on May 10 during quarantine. On the same day, she developed a fever, cough and body aches.
Her test result came back positive the next day. Her serology test result is pending.
In response to queries from CNA, the Ministry of Education (MOE) said on Wednesday that the woman was last at work on May 7.
"She was wearing a mask and practised safe distancing throughout her time at work. As a precautionary measure, the areas that she had visited in school before the onset of symptoms have been cleaned and disinfected," said an MOE spokesperson.
As there was "minimal risk" of her being infectious while in school, MOH did not require any student or staff member to be quarantined or swabbed, said the MOE spokesperson.
MOE did not state which school the woman had worked at.
The third linked community case is a 54-year-old Indonesian man who is a sea crew member working on board bunker tanker MT ALLI. He had not disembarked from the vessel, except to be taken to a dedicated quarantine facility.
As he had been identified as a close contact of Case 62113 - another Indonesian national on the same bunker tanker who tested positive on Apr 16 - he was placed on quarantine on Apr 25.
He was tested during quarantine on May 9 and his result came back positive for COVID-19. His serology test is negative.
CHANGI AIRPORT CLUSTER
The remaining seven community cases are connected to the Changi Airport cluster. There are now 18 cases linked to the Changi Airport cluster.
Of the seven new cases linked to the cluster, three are family members or household contacts of previous cases.
One of the cases is the wife of an aviation officer at Changi Airport Terminals 1 and 3, while another is a family member and household contact of an aviation security officer who is employed by Certis Cisco and works at the airport.
The third case, Case 63061, is a household contact of a cleaner who works at the airport. Case 63061 is a 43-year-old Chinese national who is employed by EM Services and deployed as a housekeeper at Changi General Hospital.
The remaining four cases work at the airport.
READ: Changi Airport COVID-19 cluster grows as family members, household contacts of previous cases test positive
Additionally, MOH's investigations revealed that a Victoria Junior College student who tested positive for COVID-19 last week is linked to the Changi Airport cluster.
She had been at Raffles Medical at Changi Airport Terminal 3 on Apr 23, Apr 30 and May 3.
The student also visited Kopitiam at Terminal 3's Basement 2 on May 3, the same day two other cases had visited the same food court.
"She was likely to have been infected while she was at Changi Airport Terminal 3 on May 3," said MOH.
The remaining 12 new COVID-19 cases reported on Tuesday were imported and were placed on stay-home notice upon their arrival in Singapore, said the Health Ministry.
Three of the imported cases are Singaporeans and two are permanent residents who returned from India, Malaysia and the UK.
One is a dependant's pass holder who arrived from Indonesia, while three are work pass holders who arrived from Indonesia, the Philippines and Sri Lanka.
One is a work permit holder who arrived from India.
The remaining two are short-term visit pass holders - one arrived from Japan for a work project in Singapore, and the other arrived from Indonesia to visit her family member who is a permanent resident.
The arrivals from the Indian sub-continent had already come into Singapore before the restrictions on travel were imposed, the Health Ministry said.
No new infections were reported in foreign workers' dormitories.
Twenty-two more people have been discharged from hospitals or community isolation facilities, taking the total recoveries to 60,975.
There are 144 cases who are still in hospital. Most are stable or improving, and three are in critical condition in the intensive care unit.
A total of 253 are isolated and cared for at community facilities. They have mild symptoms or are clinically well but still test positive for COVID-19.
As of Tuesday, Singapore has reported a total of 61,403 COVID-19 cases and 31 fatalities.
About 9,000 workers from Terminal 1, Terminal 3 and Jewel Changi Airport are undergoing mandatory tests for COVID-19.
Terminal 3's Basement 2 has also been temporarily closed to the public after several COVID-19 cases visited outlets there.
READ: Starbucks at Plaza Singapura, LBC Express at Lucky Plaza added to list of places COVID-19 cases were at
Singapore is now on a knife-edge, with community case numbers that could go either way over the next few weeks, said Education Minister Lawrence Wong, co-chair of Singapore's COVID-19 multi-ministry task force, on Tuesday.
While Singapore has a chance of “getting things under control” by the end of the month, it only takes "one lapse or one irresponsible action" for an infection to happen, said Mr Wong in a ministerial statement in Parliament.
"That infection may end up being a super-spreader event in the community," he added.
He said that “a full suite” of protective community measures is needed, as even the tightest of border controls might still see imported cases leaking into the country.
READ: Virus variant from India 'concerning' as infections could spread 'quickly and widely', says Gan Kim Yong
As of May 9, about 1.8 million people in Singapore have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, with 1.2 million of them receiving their second dose, said Health Minister Gan Kim Yong in Parliament on Tuesday.
Mr Gan said that the benefits of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines continue to outweigh the known risks, adding that there remains a need to encourage Singaporeans to be vaccinated.
As of Monday, 30 local fully vaccinated cases have tested positive for COVID-19, noted Mr Gan.
"Most of our local cases of infected vaccinated individuals were asymptomatic. None had severe COVID-19 disease requiring more intensive care," said the Health Minister in his ministerial statement.