SINGAPORE: The Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) headquarters will be closed for disinfection on Saturday (Apr 11) after the Ministry of Health identified the building as a new COVID-19 cluster.
The agency confirmed in a statement that three of its officers based at the ICA Building along Kallang Road are currently hospitalised after testing positive for the coronavirus.
They are listed by the Ministry of Health (MOH) as Cases 1553, 1650 and 1698 and tested positive for the virus on Wednesday.
In addition, a healthcare assistant and an auxiliary police officer engaged by ICA at ICA Building also tested positive for COVID-19. They are listed as cases 1733 and 1950, respectively.
In its statement on Saturday, ICA said that it had "immediately proceeded with thorough disinfection of the public and staff areas that the officers could have gone to at the ICA Building" as soon as they were notified of the confirmed cases.
"These areas have been disinfected thoroughly in accordance with NEA’s guidelines for environmental cleaning and disinfection of areas for COVID-19 cases. These include areas such as the e-Lobby, public and staff entrances, public and staff lifts, escalators, work stations, meeting rooms, pantries, and public and staff toilets," said ICA.
It is also assisting the health ministry with contact tracing efforts. Those that have been identified to have been in close contact with the officers have been instructed to stay home, monitor their health and practise strict safe distancing.
It added that as a precautionary measure, the building will close on Saturday for another round of disinfection. It advised customers with appointments for their urgent requests to make a trip to the building on Monday instead.
Giving an update on those infected, ICA said Case 1553 is currently warded at National University Hospital, while Cases 1650 and 1698 are warded at Changi General Hospital. The healthcare assistant is warded at Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital, while the auxiliary police officer is warded at Changi General Hospital.
The ICA gave more information on the individual cases:
Case 1553 last reported for work on Apr 6 and developed a high fever that night. He sought medical treatment at a polyclinic the next morning, and was referred to the National Centre for Infectious Diseases (NCID) for further medical examination. He was subsequently confirmed to be infected on Apr 8.
On Apr 6, the officer had been deployed at ICA’s e-Lobby for about two hours to assist customers with their transactions. He was wearing a surgical mask throughout his deployment.
Case 1650 last reported for work on Mar 27. On the night of Mar 29, the officer developed a sore throat, cough and had diarrhoea, and sought medical treatment at a clinic the next morning. He was given five days of medical leave from Mar 30 to Apr 3, which was later extended to Apr 7.
He was subsequently confirmed to be infected with COVID-19 on Apr 8. The officer was deployed at a staff unit and primarily works in a staff-only area.
Case 1698 last reported for work on Mar 26. The officer felt unwell on Mar 28 and sought medical treatment at a clinic on the same day. She was given five days of medical leave from Mar 30 to Apr 3.
As her condition did not improve, the officer was admitted to Changi General Hospital on Apr 7, where she was subsequently confirmed to be infected with COVID-19 on Apr 8. The officer was deployed in the same staff unit as Case 1650.
Case 1733 last reported for work on Mar 28. She developed a fever and cough on Mar 30 and sought medical treatment at a polyclinic on the same day. She was on medical leave from Mar 30 to Apr 7.
She was admitted to Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital on Apr 7, and confirmed to be infected with COVID-19 on Apr 8.
She had been assisting with temperature screening at the entrance of the ICA Building and had worn a surgical mask throughout her deployment.
Case 1950 last reported for work on Apr 7. He developed respiratory symptoms on Apr 8 and was on medical leave from Apr 8 to Apr 12. He was subsequently confirmed to be infected with COVID-19 on Apr 9.
He is an auxiliary police officer and was deployed at the ICA Building to provide security services. He wore a surgical mask throughout his deployment.
ICA said in its statement it had already implemented precautionary measures before Saturday's cases.
Apart from measures such as safe distancing and providing hand sanitisers at its checkpoints and service centres, ICA has implemented temperature screening for both the public and its officers.
All officers who are able to telecommute are required to do so, while frontline officers who interact with the public have to wear reusable masks.
Officers assigned to perform clearance or screening duties on travellers with symptoms are required to wear surgical masks, while those assigned to handle suspect cases are required to wear full personal protective equipment such as an N95 mask, disposable gloves and disposable gowns.
Cleaning of checkpoint premises and ICA Building, especially the immigration clearance and service counters, has been stepped up while fingerprint scanners are also regularly sanitised, ICA said.
"ICA remains committed to ensuring the health and safety of our officers," it said.
"We will continue to monitor the situation closely and support the Whole-of-Government’s efforts to manage the COVID-19 outbreak in Singapore, on top of our duties to secure our borders."