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New COVID-19 cluster at Singapore's biggest dormitory after it was declared to be 'fully cleared' of the disease

New COVID-19 cluster at Singapore's biggest dormitory after it was declared to be 'fully cleared' of the disease

Worker dormitory Sungei Tengah Lodge at Old Choa Chu Kang Road was declared an isolation area after a spike of COVID-19 cases there.

SINGAPORE: A new COVID-19 cluster was reported on Saturday (Aug 22) at Singapore's biggest purpose-built dormitory, about a month after it was declared to be "fully cleared" of the coronavirus.

Two of the newly confirmed COVID-19 cases in Singapore are linked to 55 previous cases to form a new cluster at Sungei Tengah Lodge dormitory at 500 Old Choa Chu Kang Road, the Ministry of Health (MOH) said on Saturday.

The cluster at Sungei Tengah Lodge was among the largest in Singapore before the dormitory was declared cleared of COVID-19 by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) on Jul 21. 

More than 2,200 confirmed cases had been linked to the cluster. MOH closed the cluster on Jul 18. 

Sungei Tengah Lodge is Singapore's biggest purpose-built dormitory, with about 16,000 workers living there. 

It was first declared an isolation area on Apr 9, and was among the first dormitories be gazetted as an isolation area under the Infectious Diseases Act. The notification was revoked on Jul 18. 

READ: COVID-19 cases detected again in cleared migrant worker dorms, about 7,000 quarantined due to new infections

STAY-HOME NOTICE FOR 4,800 WORKERS

In a joint statement with MOH and the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) on Sunday (Aug 23), MOM said that it has issued a stay-home notice to around 4,800 workers as a precautionary measure. 

The rest of the residents are either recently recovered workers or were not close contacts of the confirmed cases, and these workers will be allowed to continue to work and not required to be isolated. 

Workers who are not recently recovered will continue to undergo rostered routine testing. 

MOM will test workers who are on stay-home notice in the next few days, said the statement. 

"We expect to find among these workers, some who have evidence of an old infection and are no longer infectious." 

These workers can resume work while those who test positive will be sent to community care facilities or hospitals for medical treatment. 

The remainder who test negative will be quarantined in centralised facilities to prevent any transmission during the viral incubation period. 

In the statement, BCA said it has issued a safety time out notice to 20 construction projects where the workers who tested positive for COVID-19 had been working. 

This is to allow for disinfection of the affected areas a review of safe management measures at the work sites. 

"A stop work order may then be issued for part or whole of the worksite once the area where the COVID-positive worker and his co-workers operate, have been identified."

MOM and MOH said on Aug 18 that about 100 new COVID-19 cases have been detected in migrant worker dormitories that were previously given the all clear from the virus. 

Some of the new cases were picked up through routine testing that is conducted biweekly, and some of the workers had gone back to work.

EMPLOYERS MUST SCHEDULE SWAB TEST

On Saturday, authorities said employers must ensure their workers have completed a COVID-19 swab test in the past 14 days by Sep 5, as part of plans to ensure the safe restart of work. Those who have not done so will not be able to return to work.

READ: Employers must ensure that workers undergo routine COVID-19 swab test by Sep 5

Workers who are staying in dormitories and those in the construction, marine and process sectors, as well as those going into the work sites, are required to undergo rostered routine testing every 14 days.

To date, about 16,000 employers have scheduled their workers for rostered routine testing using the Health Promotion Board's swab registration system, the authorities said. About 102,000 workers who need to undergo routine testing have yet to be scheduled for a swab test.

“Employers are reminded to quickly schedule appointment slots for their workers if they have not done so, to avoid disruption to business operations,” the authorities said on Saturday.

There are currently about 13,700 workers who are still serving out their quarantine period, said MOH on Saturday, adding that they will be tested when their quarantine ends.

"We expect the case counts to remain high in the coming days, before tapering down thereafter," the health ministry said.

READ: Singapore reports 50 new COVID-19 cases, including 2 in the community

READ: Serangoon Gardens Country Club, F&B outlet at Changi Airport among locations visited by COVID-19 cases while infectious

Singapore reported 50 new COVID-19 cases on Saturday, including two in the community and five imported infections.

This brings the total number of cases in the country to 56,266, with fatalities remaining at 27.

Both of the community cases are Singaporeans and are currently unlinked to previous cases, the health ministry said.

One of the cases, a 63-year-old woman, was tested after being admitted to a hospital for another medical condition. The other community case, a 56-year-old woman, had gone to work at the Institute of Technical Education (ITE) College Central. She was detected to have the coronavirus after she was diagnosed with acute respiratory infection.

The five imported cases include a Singaporean man who returned from Iran on Aug 10, two dependant's pass holders, a student's pass holder and a work permit holder currently employed in Singapore.

The five imported cases were placed on stay-home notices upon arrival in Singapore, and were tested while serving their stay-home notices at dedicated facilities.

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Source: CNA/nh(mi)

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