16 new COVID community cases in Singapore, highest in over 9 months

Staff Writer, Singapore
·Editorial Team
·12 min read
SINGAPORE, Feb. 27, 2021 -- Medical workers take swab samples from spectators for COVID-19 test before the Singapore Tennis Open semifinal in Singapore, Feb. 27, 2021. (Photo by Then Chih Wey/Xinhua via Getty) (Xinhua/Then Chih Wey via Getty Images)
Medical workers take swab samples from spectators for COVID-19 test before the Singapore Tennis Open semifinal in Singapore on 27 February 2021. (PHOTO: Xinhua via Getty Images)

SINGAPORE — The Ministry of Health (MOH) on Thursday (29 April) confirmed 35 new COVID-19 cases in Singapore, taking the country's total case count to 61,121.

Sixteen of them are local cases in the community while the remaining 19 are imported. This marks the fourth day in a row with reported local cases and the highest daily count of community cases since 24 community infections were reported on 11 July last year.

"Amongst the new cases today, 28 are asymptomatic, and were detected from our proactive screening and surveillance, while seven were symptomatic," said the MOH.

Among the community cases, 15 are linked to previous infections – a fully-vaccinated nurse at the Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH) and an Immigration & Checkpoints Authority (ICA) officer – while one is currently unlinked. Two of the 16 community cases have also been fully-vaccinated.

Both the TTSH nurse and the ICA officer were among three community cases, all unlinked, announced by the MOH on Wednesday. With Thursday's announcement of new clusters linked to them, Singapore now has eight active COVID-19 clusters.

9 cases in new TTSH nurse cluster

Of the 16 community cases, eight are linked to the TTSH nurse and were detected from the authorities' proactive testing of patients and staff in the affected ward, said the MOH.

The 46-year-old Filipino nurse is deployed at Ward 9D, a general ward in the hospital, and was confirmed to have COVID-19 two days ago. The discovery of the nurse's infection had led to a lockdown of Ward 9D.

The new "Case 62541" cluster, named after the nurse's case number, consists of her, two other TTSH staff members and six patients warded in Ward 9D.

  • Fully-vaccinated TTSH doctor

The 30-year-old male permanent resident received his first dose of COVID-19 vaccine on 18 January, and the second dose on 8 February

The Malaysian man had attended to patients in Ward 9D but had not gone to work after onset of symptoms. He developed a fever on 27 April and sore throat the next day, and sought medical treatment at a general practitioner clinic on 27 April, where he was tested for COVID-19. 

His test result came back positive the next day, and he was conveyed to the National Centre for Infectious Diseases (NCID) in an ambulance. His serological test result has come back negative, indicating that this is likely a current infection, said the MOH.

  • TTSH healthcare assistant trainee

The second staff member linked to the new cluster is an 18-year-old Singaporean woman who was deployed at Ward 9D. 

The woman is asymptomatic and was detected on 28 April as part of the TTSH’s proactive testing of patients and staff in Ward 9D following the confirmation of the nurse as a COVID-19 case. 

Her test came back positive for COVID-19 on the same day, and she was conveyed to the NCID in an ambulance. Her serological test result has come back negative, said the MOH.

  • Six TTSH patients aged between 57 and 94

One of the six TTSH patients who was discovered to be infected with COVID-19 is a 57-year-old Singaporean man who was initially warded in Ward 7D, before being transferred to Ward 9D.

The man developed a fever on 16 April but did not seek medical treatment. On 18 April, as his fever persisted, and he had developed a runny nose and cough, he sought treatment at the TTSH’s emergency department. 

"He was tested for COVID-19 infection and his test result was negative. He was subsequently warded in Ward 7D," said the MOH, adding that he was transferred to Ward 9D on 20 April.

As the man had a persistent fever, he was reviewed by an infectious diseases physician, and transferred to an isolation ward on 27 April. 

On 28 April, he tested positive for COVID-19 and was transferred to the NCID. His serological test result has come back negative, said the MOH.

The five other patients, all Singaporeans aged between 71 and 94, were detected as part of the TTSH’s proactive testing of patients in Ward 9D, the ministry added.

Amongst them, three are asymptomatic, while two cases, aged 71 and 79, developed either or both fever and acute respiratory infection (ARI) symptoms on 25 and 28 April, respectively.

Both Ward 7D and Ward 9D are now locked down, said the MOH. "Testing for staff and patients who have been in both wards is still in progress. All close contacts of the cases, including patients, visitors and staff who have been in the affected wards, will also be placed on quarantine," it added,

The hospital has also stepped up clinical surveillance of all inpatients who may develop fever and ARI symptoms. As a precautionary measure, all patients and staff in other TTSH wards will also be tested for COVID-19 infection, including those who are asymptomatic. 

"This additional testing will enable us to draw out any hidden links. Our strategy is to aggressively test and draw a wide ring around the cases, to try and prevent further spread," said the MOH.

Additional steps taken by the TTSH include minimising staff and patient movement in all the main wards to prevent any cross-infection and banning visitors, except for critically ill patients, from Thursday

During this period, elective cases will be deferred except for those that are urgent, and A&E cases that are non-life-threatening will be redirected to other hospitals, the MOH said.

8 cases in new ICA officer cluster

Seven of Thursday's community cases are family members of a 38-year-old Singaporean man who works as an ICA officer deployed at Changi Airport Terminal 1 and was confirmed to have COVID-19 two days ago. 

The man is a deputy team leader deployed at the airport's duty officer counter and processes arrival clearance for travellers at T1. His doctor had advised that he was not eligible due to his drug allergy.

The group of eight, including the ICA officer, had gathered for a meal on 25 April, where "transmission was likely to have taken place", said the MOH. All but one family members were placed on quarantine on 27 April, while the remaining case, his wife, was quarantined on 28 April.

The new "Case 62517" cluster, named after the officer's case number, consists of him and his seven family members, including his father and a three-year-old nephew. 

  • TTSH nurse – officer's wife

The 32-year-old Singaporean woman had been identified as the officer's close contact and was placed on quarantine on 28 April. The nurse does not work in TTSH's Ward 9D or Ward 7D, said the MOH.

"Based on our epidemiological investigation, there is no link between (her) and the TTSH cluster. However, the testing of all staff in TTSH wards will serve as an additional check on this," the ministry added.

The woman is asymptomatic but was tested for COVID-19 during quarantine and her test result came back positive.

  • Retiree – officer's father

The 72-year-old Singaporean man lives in the same household as the officer, said the MOH. As he had been identified as his close contact, he was placed on quarantine on 27 April. He is asymptomatic, but was tested for COVID-19 during quarantine and his test result came back positive.

  • Preschooler – officer's nephew

The three-year-old Singaporean boy last attended school on 22 April and had interacted with the officer on 25 April. As he had been identified as the man's close contact, he was placed on quarantine on 27 April. 

The boy developed a fever on 28 April and his parents reported his symptom, said the MOH.

On the same day, he was tested for COVID-19 during quarantine and his test result came back positive. He was conveyed in an ambulance to the National University Hospital on 29 April.

  • ION Orchard security officer & private hire car driver

The MOH said that the 39-year-old Singaporean man's last day at work was 27 April and had interacted with the ICA officer over dinner on 25 April.

As he had been identified the officer's close contact, he was placed on quarantine on 27 April. He developed a cough on 28 April but did not report his symptom. On the same day, he was tested for COVID-19 during quarantine and his test result came back positive for COVID-19.

  • SP PowerGrid technical officer

The 38-year-old Singaporean man had interacted with the officer over dinner on 25 April. As he had been identified as his close contact, he was placed on quarantine on 27 April. 

He developed a cough and body aches on 28 April. On the same day, he was tested for COVID-19 during quarantine and his test result came back positive the next day.

  • Goodwood Park Hotel telephone operator

The 65 year-old Singaporean man's last day of work was 27 April, said the MOH. The man had interacted with the officer over dinner on 25 April and was placed on quarantine on 27 April after being identified as his close contact.

He is asymptomatic, but was tested for COVID-19 during quarantine and his test result came back positive.

  • Housewife

The 33 year-old Singaporean woman had interacted with the officer over dinner on 25 April. As she had been identified as his close contact, she was placed on quarantine on 27 April. 

She is asymptomatic, but was tested for COVID-19 during quarantine and her test result came back positive.

Following the confirmation of the ICA officer as a COVID-19 case, the authority has quarantined 32 of his colleagues who work at Changi Airport.

About 100 ICA officers who were deployed at Terminal 1 will also be tested as a precaution.

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Fully-vaccinated cleaner sole unlinked community case

The remaining case, currently unlinked, is a 39-year-old Vietnamese woman who works as a cleaner employed by Octo Jet Building Maintenance Services, and deployed at a community care facility at Tuas South. 

She received her first dose of COVID-19 vaccine on 27 January, and the second dose on 19 February. 

"The COVID-19 vaccine is effective in preventing symptomatic disease for the vast majority of those vaccinated, but it is possible for vaccinated individuals to get infected," said the MOH.

At work, the woman dons full personal protection equipment (PPE), including N95 mask, face shield, gown and gloves, the ministry added.

She also periodically helps out at a food stall at The Summit located at the National University of Singapore’s Bukit Timah campus.

The woman is asymptomatic, and was detected when she was tested on 26 April as part of the rostered routine testing regime. 

Her pooled test result came back positive for COVID-19 the next day, and she was conveyed in an ambulance to the NCID. An individual test was done on 27 April, and her test result came back positive for COVID-19, said the MOH. 

"Her earlier tests from the rostered routine training – the last being on 14 April – were all negative for COVID-19. Her serology test result has come back positive but we have assessed that this is likely a recent infection," the ministry added.

It also noted that the number of new cases in the community has increased from 10 in the week before to 28 cases in the past week. The number of unlinked cases in the community has also increased from five in the week before to seven in the past week.

Separately, the MOH added 29 new places to a list of public venues visited by COVID-19 community cases while infectious, including City Harvest Church and the TTSH's Healthy Kopitiam. 

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19 imported cases, including one-year-old girl

All 19 imported cases on Thursday are asymptomatic. Among them, two are Singaporeans and nine are PRs who returned from India and South Korea.

Three others are dependant’s pass holders, including a one-year-old baby girl, who arrived from India and Sri Lanka.

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

All 19 imported cases were placed on the stay-home notice upon their arrival here and were tested while serving their notice.

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99% of total cases have recovered

With 20 more patients discharged from hospitals or community isolation facilities on Thursday, 60,738 cases – or 99.4 per cent of the total – have fully recovered from the infection.

Most of the 110 hospitalised cases are stable or improving, while none is in the intensive care unit.

A total of 243 patients – with mild symptoms or are clinically well but still test positive – are isolated and cared for at community facilities.

Apart from the 30 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.

Among the 217 confirmed cases reported from 23 to 29 April, 86 cases have tested positive for their serology tests, 94 have tested negative, and 37 serology test results are pending.

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