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What we know so far about the COVID-19 cluster linked to the police para-vet

What we know so far about the COVID-19 cluster linked to the police para-vet

A cluster of COVID-19 cases has emerged after a para-vet at the police's K-9 unit tested positive. (Photo: Try Sutrisno Foo)

SINGAPORE: The Ministry of Health (MOH) reported on Monday (Jan 18) that two new community COVID-19 cases were linked to a police para-veterinarian who had earlier tested positive, forming Singapore's latest cluster.

The two cases reported on Monday are both family members of Case 59365, a 44-year-old Singaporean man who works as an administrative officer at the same location as the para-vet. 

The para-vet's identified close contacts, including his family members and co-workers, have been isolated and placed in quarantine. The para-vet's wife was reported to have the disease on Jan 16.

Twenty-five police dogs who had interacted with the para-vet have also tested negative for the coronavirus.

How the COVID-19 cluster involving the para-vet has grown.

Here is how the cluster unfolded:

PARA-VET CONFIRMED TO HAVE COVID-19

The MOH reported that the sole community case on Jan 14 was a 32-year-old Singaporean who works as as a police para-vet at 2 Mowbray Road.

His job mainly involves tele-consultations with dog handlers, MOH said.

According to MOH, the para-vet developed a fever on Jan 11 and visited a general practitioner clinic on the same day, where he was tested for COVID-19 as part of enhanced community testing.

Singapore Police Force's K-9 unit at Mowbray Road. (Photo: Try Sutrisno Foo)

READ: 45 new COVID-19 cases in Singapore, including 1 in community

The para-vet remained at home on medical leave until his result came back positive on Jan 13, when he was taken to the National Centre for Infectious Diseases (NCID). His serological test was negative, indicating it is likely a current infection, said MOH.

The para-vet's identified close contacts, including family members and co-workers, have been isolated and placed on quarantine, and will be tested at the start and end of their quarantine period to detect asymptomatic cases, added the Health Ministry.

3 OFFICERS QUARANTINED, 25 DOGS TEST NEGATIVE

The next day, the police said that three of its officers who were in close contact with the para-vet have been quarantined.

Twenty-five police dogs that had interacted with the para-vet two weeks before he showed symptoms also tested negative for COVID-19, the police said.

READ: 3 SPF officers quarantined, 25 police dogs negative for COVID-19 after para-vet tested positive

The police added that the para-vet cares for the medical and grooming needs of dogs in the K-9 unit, and that his job does not require him to work outside his assigned base.

The Animal and Veterinary Service said it tested the 25 police dogs as a precautionary measure, using a polymerase chain reaction test method for animals as recommended by the World Organisation for Animal Health.

The police are also monitoring the dogs' health regularly, adding that the dogs have not shown any respiratory symptoms.

The K-9 unit remains operational, the force said, with workplace segregation measures for the work unit of any officer who had interacted closely with the para-vet.

It has also cleaned and disinfected common areas that the para-vet could have visited, including work stations, lift lobbies, meeting rooms, pantries and toilets.

PARA-VET'S WIFE TESTS POSITIVE

On Jan 16, MOH reported that the para-vet's wife tested positive for COVID-19. The 28-year-old had been in quarantine since Jan 13.

READ: 24 new COVID-19 cases in Singapore; wife of police para-vet among 4 community infections

She had developed acute respiratory infection symptoms on Jan 14 and was tested for the coronavirus. Her result returned as positive the next day, and she was also sent to NCID. Her serological test was negative.

The woman works as a prison staff officer with the Singapore Prison Service but does not interact with inmates, MOH said. She was mainly working from home during this period.

2 MORE CASES, CLUSTER IDENTIFIED

On Jan 17, MOH reported that a 44-year-old Singaporean man who works as an administrative officer at the police's K-9 unit has COVID-19.

The administrative officer had developed a dry throat on Jan 7 – earlier than the para-vet's onset of symptoms – but had not sought medical treatment, MOH said. 

READ: 30 new COVID-19 cases in Singapore, including 2 in community, forming new cluster linked to para-vet

The administrative officer was tested on Jan 15 as part of special testing operations at the para-vet's workplace. His result came back positive on Jan 16 and he was taken to NCID. His serological test was negative.

After the administrative officer was confirmed to have COVID-19, MOH on Jan 16 contacted one of his family members, a 44-year-old Singaporean woman, as part of contact tracing efforts.

The woman, a homemaker, was tested for COVID-19 on Jan 16 when she reported she had developed a fever and chills on Jan 9, as well as the loss of smell and taste on Jan 13. She did not seek medical treatment, MOH said.

Her test result came back positive on Jan 17, and she was taken to Ng Teng Fong General Hospital. Her serological test was negative.

2 MORE CASES DID NOT SEEK MEDICAL TREATMENT

The two cases reported on Jan 18 are both family members of the 44-year-old Singaporean man who works as an administrative officer at the same location as the para-vet. 

One case is the man’s spouse, a 43-year-old Singaporean woman who is a homemaker, while the other is a 66-year-old Malaysian woman who is a long-term visit pass holder. Both experienced symptoms including diarrhoea and loss of taste but had not sought medical treatment.

MOH said epidemiological investigations are ongoing, and "strongly" urged everyone to do their part to reduce the risk of transmission.

"Those who are unwell, including those showing early or mild symptoms, should be socially responsible and seek medical attention immediately and stay at home to prevent the spread of illness to others," it said. 

As of Jan 18, a total of six confirmed cases have been linked to the para-vet cluster. 

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Source: CNA/hz/zl

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