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New COVID-19 cluster in Singapore linked to NUS researcher

Four community cases were among Singapore's 39 new COVID-19 infections on Saturday (Apr 17).

New COVID-19 cluster in Singapore linked to NUS researcher

File photo of the National University of Singapore.

SINGAPORE: Four new community COVID-19 cases were reported in Singapore on Saturday (Apr 17), including two linked to a National University of Singapore (NUS) employee, forming a new cluster.

The NUS senior research fellow, a 34-year-old Indian national, tested positive for the virus on Friday. He had tested negative several times, the first of which was a pre-departure test in India. 

While on stay-home notice, he was identified as a close contact of another case during their flight to Singapore. 

On Saturday, the NUS researcher's brother and a colleague – a 31-year-old Swiss national who is also a senior research fellow at the university – tested positive for COVID-19.

The Swiss woman, who is identified as Case 62057, interacted with him on Apr 12. She developed a sore throat on Apr 15 but did not seek medical treatment. 

As she had been identified as a close contact, she was contacted by the Ministry of Health (MOH) on Apr 16 and placed on quarantine. 

The woman reported her symptoms and was taken to Ng Teng Fong General Hospital where her COVID-19 test came back positive. Her serology test result is pending. 

The brother of the NUS research fellow works at DBS Bank at 2 Changi Business Park Crescent. He has largely been working from home and was last at his workplace between Apr 6 and Apr 9, said MOH. 

The 35-year-old Indian national was placed on home quarantine on Apr 15 after being identified as a household contact. He developed a fever on Apr 16 and was taken to NCID. 

His COVID-19 test came back positive the following day. His serology test result is pending. 

READ: NSman tests positive for COVID-19 before in-camp training at Nee Soon Camp

The other two community COVID-19 cases reported on Saturday includes a Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) national serviceman (NSman) who tested positive before the start of his in-camp training.    

He was swabbed as part of routine safety measures for all NSmen before they begin their training, said the Ministry of Defence. 

The 35-year-old Singaporean works as a freelance photographer and was identified as Case 62032 by MOH.

READ: Gardens by the Bay, Bollywood Veggies among places visited by COVID-19 cases during infectious period

The remaining community case is a 41-year-old woman who is a household contact of an imported case – a work pass holder from India. 

He tested positive for COVID-19 on Apr 2 but was assessed to be a recovered case based on his positive serology result. 

The woman, a Singapore permanent resident identified as Case 62045, works as an accountant at OM Universal at 11 Kaki Bukit Road 1 but has not gone to work since the onset of symptoms. 

She developed a cough on the evening of Apr 14 after work and saw a doctor the next day, where she was tested for COVID-19. 

Her test result came back positive on Apr 16 and she was taken to NCID. Her serology test result is pending. 

"In the meantime, all the identified close contacts of the cases, including their 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 so that we can detect asymptomatic cases," it added.

Epidemiological investigations are ongoing, said MOH. 



IMPORTED CASES

Singapore also reported 35 imported cases on Saturday, including five Singaporeans and five permanent residents who returned from Brazil, Egypt, India, Indonesia and Liberia.

Four are dependant's pass holders who arrived from Nepal. 

Seventeen are work permit holders who arrived from Bangladesh, India, Indonesia and the Philippines. Eight of these cases are foreign domestic workers. 

A student's pass holder and a work pass holder travelled from India.

The remaining two cases are short-term visit pass holders. One arrived from Bahrain for a work project in Singapore and the other arrived from India to visit his family member who is a permanent resident.

All the imported infections were placed on stay-home notice upon arrival in Singapore, said MOH.

No new infections were reported in foreign workers' dormitories.

RECOVERIES

Seventeen more cases have been discharged, bringing the total who have fully recovered from the infection to 60,463.

There are 62 cases still in hospital, with two in critical condition in the intensive care unit. 

A total of 253 are isolated and cared for at community facilities.

Overall, the number of new cases in the community has increased from two cases in the week before to seven cases in the past week, said the ministry.

The number of unlinked cases in the community has also increased from two cases in the week before to four cases in the past week, MOH added.

"The recent locally transmitted cases are a stark reminder that the virus has not been eradicated and new cases and clusters can easily emerge in our community, if we let our guard down," said MOH.

It urged members of the public to continue to exercise social responsibility and be disciplined in keeping to safe management measures, even for those who have been vaccinated.

"This is even more critical as we resume and scale up more activities in Phase 3 of reopening, and interactions in the community increase," the ministry added.

"Together we must work to avoid an uncontrolled resurgence of cases that may necessitate a tightening of measures."

As of Saturday, Singapore has reported 60,808 COVID-19 cases and 30 fatalities.

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Source: CNA/aj

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