38 new COVID cases in Singapore; 3 of 4 in community linked to latest cluster

Staff Writer, Singapore
·Editorial Team
·7-min read
SINGAPORE - DECEMBER 15: Travellers wearing protective mask walk along the transit area of Changi International Airport terminal on December 15, 2020 in Singapore. From mid-January, Singapore will allow a limited number of business travellers from any country to visit up to 14 days under a new segregated travel lane arrangement where they will be housed within dedicated facilities undergoing regular testing and observe all safety measurement management measures. As of 14 December, the Ministry of Health confirmed 5 new imported COVID-19 cases with no cases in the wider community bringing the country's total to 58,325. (Photo by Suhaimi Abdullah/Getty Images)
Travellers wearing protective masks walk along the transit area of Changi International Airport terminal on 15 December, 2020, in Singapore. (PHOTO: Getty Images)

SINGAPORE — The Ministry of Health (MOH) confirmed 38 new COVID-19 cases in Singapore on Thursday (21 January), taking the country’s total case count to 59,235.

There are four cases in the community, while the remaining 34 are imported. This marks the eighth day in a row where new community infections are reported.

“Amongst the new cases today, 36 are asymptomatic, and were detected from our proactive screening and surveillance, while two were symptomatic,” said the MOH.

Of the four community cases, three are linked to previous cases in the “case 59429” cluster, the latest and sixth live cluster of COVID-19 cases in Singapore.

The cluster – now linked to seven cases – is named after the case number of a previously reported infection, a 39-year-old male permanent resident, who works as a sales personnel at BS Industrial & Construction Supply at 34 Kallang Place. The man was confirmed to have COVID-19 on 18 January.

3 more community cases linked to new ‘case 59429’ cluster

Among the three new cases linked to the cluster is the man’s spouse, a 43-year-old Singaporean woman, who works from home as an online trader and does not physically interact with her clients.

She was placed on quarantine on 18 January when the man was confirmed to have COVID-19 and she was tested for the disease two days later despite being asymptomatic.

Her test came back positive on the same day, and she was conveyed to the National Centre for Infectious Diseases (NCID). Her serology test result has come back negative, indicating that this is likely a current infection.

The other case is a 35-year-old male permanent resident who is a co-worker of the older man.

The younger sales personnel had developed a sore throat on 18 January but did not seek medical treatment.

As he had been identified as a close contact of his older co-worker, he was contacted by the MOH on the same day but failed to report his symptom.

On 20 January, he was tested for COVID-19 while under quarantine. His result came back positive on the same day, and he was subsequently conveyed to the National University Hospital. His serology test result is pending.

The third case is a 46-year-old Malaysian woman, a work pass holder, who works as a sales personnel at Toppan Merrill at 3 Church Street but does not interact with clients.

She is a household contact of a 28-year-old Malaysian woman who works as a finance personnel at BS Industrial & Construction Supply. The latter was confirmed to have COVID-19 infection on 20 January.

The older Malaysian woman developed a blocked nose on 19 January and stayed at home for most of the day. As she had been identified as a close contact of the 28-year-old woman, she was contacted by the MOH on 20 January and placed on quarantine.

She reported her symptoms and was conveyed to Sengkang General Hospital where she was tested for COVID-19. Her test came back positive on the same day.

Her serology test result has come back negative, indicating that this is likely a current infection.

Lone unlinked case a dive personnel

The remaining community case, currently unlinked, is a 42-year-old Singaporean man who works as a dive personnel at Ocean Works Asia at Block 6, 13 Jalan Terusan.

He had travelled to Indonesia for work between 4 November and 13 December last year, and served his stay-home notice at a dedicated facility upon his return to Singapore until 27 December.

His swab done on 24 December during the notice was negative for COVID- 19.

He is asymptomatic, and was detected when he took a COVID-19 test on 20 January as part of the requirement for shore-based personnel going onboard a vessel to be tested.

His result came back positive for COVID-19 on the same day and he was conveyed to the NCID. His serological test result has come back positive, which indicates a likely past infection.

“Given the relatively long time interval between his travel and positive COVID-19 test, we have classified this case as locally transmitted,” said the MOH.

Epidemiological investigations are ongoing and all identified close contacts of the community cases, including their family and household members, as well as co-workers, have been isolated and quarantined and will be tested at the start and end of their quarantine period.

Serological tests will also be conducted for the close contacts to determine if the case could have been infected by them.

The MOH said the number of new cases in the community has increased from three in the week before to 21 cases in the past week. The number of unlinked cases in the community has also increased from one in the week before to six in the past week.

One of 34 imported cases did not serve SHN, was not isolated

All but one of the 34 imported cases were placed on the stay-home notice or isolated upon their arrival here.

The lone case, a PR, tested negative for COVID-19 upon his arrival here from the US on 17 January, and was on a controlled itinerary during his work trip in Singapore.

He took a COVID-19 pre-departure test three days later in preparation for a trip to the UK. His result came back positive for COVID-19 on the same day and he was conveyed to the hospital.

The other imported cases include a dependant’s pass holder, an eight-year-old boy, who arrived from the United Arab Emirates.

Another is a long-term visit pass holder who arrived from the US, while two others are work pass holders who arrived from India and the United Arab Emirates.

One is a short-term visit pass holder who arrived from India to visit her child who is a PR.

Two others are special pass holders who are sea crew – one arrived from Indonesia to board a vessel docked in Singapore, while the other arrived on board a vessel from Indonesia and had not disembarked.

The remaining 26 are work permit holders who arrived from Bangladesh, India, and Indonesia, of whom one is a foreign domestic worker.

One work permit holder arrived from India on 27 December last year and served his notice at a dedicated facility until 10 January.

His swab done on 7 January during the notice was negative for COVID-19, and subsequent tests on 11 and 13 January were also negative.

His test on 19 January came back positive for COVID-19, although the Ct value was very high, which is indicative of a low viral load. His serological test result has also come back positive.

“Given that these indicate likely past infection, we have classified the case as imported. He is likely to be shedding minute fragments of the virus RNA, which are no longer transmissible and infective to others,” said the MOH.

99% of total cases have recovered, 1 in ICU

With 33 more patients discharged from hospitals or community isolation facilities on Thursday, 58,959 cases – or 99.5 per cent of the total – have fully recovered from the infection.

Most of the 43 hospitalised cases are stable or improving, and one is in the intensive care unit.

A total of 204 patients – with mild symptoms or are clinically well but still test positive – are isolated and cared for at community facilities.

Apart from 29 patients who have died from COVID-19 complications, 15 others who tested positive for the virus were determined to have died from unrelated causes, including three whose deaths were attributed to a heart attack and another four, whose deaths were attributed to coronary heart disease.

Amongst the 206 confirmed cases reported from 15 to 21 January, 90 cases have tested positive for their serology tests, 29 have tested negative, and 87 serology test results are pending.

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