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Public places visited by COVID-19 cases in Tan Tock Seng Hospital cluster to close for 2 days

More COVID-19 cases are expected in the hospital cluster as authorities conduct proactive testing, says the Health Minister.

Public places visited by COVID-19 cases in Tan Tock Seng Hospital cluster to close for 2 days

Healthcare workers in personal protective equipment at Tan Tock Seng Hospital's Accident and Emergency (A&E) department on Apr 30, 2021. (Photo: Calvin Oh)

SINGAPORE: Public places visited by COVID-19 cases in the Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH) cluster will close for two days for cleaning, Health Minister Gan Kim Yong announced on Friday (Apr 30).   

This is to reduce the spread of the coronavirus from any potential undetected cases in the community, he said.

"We will close all public places visited by the cases during the likely infectious period for two days for cleaning, and this will also facilitate testing of the staff and workers at these affected areas,” Mr Gan said during a press conference by the COVID-19 multi-ministry task force.

These locations include places of worship like City Harvest Church and Masjid Hajjah Fatimah at Beach Road, NTUC FairPrice supermarkets at Kitchener Complex, Toa Payoh Hub and VivoCity, as well as eateries such as Tuk Tuk Cha at Bugis Junction, Four Fingers at Junction 8 and Malaysia Boleh food court in Ang Mo Kio Hub.

“The aim is to really uncover any hidden cases that may be asymptomatic so that we can effectively contain the spread,” Mr Gan said.

READ: COVID-19: Staff placed on leave of absence, 4 wards locked down as Tan Tock Seng Hospital moves to contain cluster

READ: 'I'm used to it already': Tan Tock Seng Hospital staff on the risks of working at the heart of a COVID-19 cluster

Co-chair of the task force Lawrence Wong said agencies will be approaching venue operators and owners to have them closed. 

"I presume most of it will be done over the weekend - Saturday, Sunday in some instances," he said, adding that the authorities want to do it as soon as possible.

MORE CASES EXPECTED

The TTSH cluster is Singapore's first hospital cluster and currently the country's largest with 13 cases. 

The first COVID-19 case detected in this cluster, a nurse, was announced on Wednesday. Twelve other cases in this cluster have since been confirmed, comprising two doctors, a healthcare assistant, a cleaner and eight patients. 

More cases are expected to emerge through proactive testing done by the authorities to "uncover hidden cases", Mr Gan said, adding that the Government is “particularly concerned” about the hospital cluster.

Director of medical services at the Ministry of Health Associate Professor Kenneth Mak said that the authorities are looking into the possibility that the infections could be related to "a breakthrough infection", which refers to infection after vaccination. 

Of the TTSH COVID-19 cases, four employees and a patient have been fully vaccinated. Another patient had received one dose of the vaccine.

Mr Wong cautioned that people "should not overreact to the news of breakthrough infections".

"(We should not) make the biggest mistake which is to say that all vaccinations don't work, and therefore, maybe there is no need for a vaccine. I think that would be disastrous," he said.

TESTING TO INCLUDE DISCHARGED PATIENTS AND VISITORS

COVID-19 testing will be widened to include patients who had been discharged from TTSH and those who visited the hospital on or after Apr 18. 

It was earlier announced that all patients and staff members in TTSH wards will be tested, including those who are asymptomatic.

"Our testing is ongoing, and we expect to detect more cases in the coming weeks, in coming days," said Mr Gan.

READ: Tan Tock Seng Hospital to redirect some A&E cases to other hospitals after COVID-19 cluster emerges 

Visitors and patients who were at TTSH since Apr 18 are advised to monitor their health closely for 14 days from their date of visit, said the Ministry of Health (MOH) in a media release. 

"They are strongly encouraged to visit a Regional Screening Centre (RSC) or Public Health Preparedness Clinic (PHPC) for a government-funded swab test," the ministry added. 

READ: COVID-19: People 'should limit' social interactions to maximum of 2 a day, says MOH

READ: Singapore to bar visitors from Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka

As for people who may have been at the public places visited by COVID-19 cases, Mr Wong said they will receive text messages to notify them so that they can monitor their health.

“In addition, we will also alert them and encourage them through the SMS to get themselves tested, so we will send them instructions on where they could possibly go for testing and the testing will be free of charge,” he said.

MOH's list of places is as follows:

List of public places visited by COVID-19 cases in the community during their infectious period. (Image: Ministry of Health)



Editor’s Note: The list of public places visited by COVID-19 cases in the Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH) cluster has been amended on the request of MOH.

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Source: CNA/ja(gs)

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