13 of 52 new COVID cases in Singapore linked to Changi Airport cluster

·Editorial Team
·9-min read
People dine at a restaurant in a shopping mall in Singapore on May 14, 2021, ahead of tightening restrictions over concerns of a rise in Covid-19 coronavirus cases. (Photo by Roslan Rahman / AFP) (Photo by ROSLAN RAHMAN/AFP via Getty Images)
People dine at a restaurant in a shopping mall in Singapore on 14 May, 2021, ahead of Sunday's tightened restrictions. (PHOTO: AFP via Getty Images)

SINGAPORE — The Ministry of Health (MOH) on Friday (14 May) confirmed 52 new COVID-19 cases in Singapore, taking the country's total case count to 61,505.

Twenty-four of them are local cases in the community, of which 20 are linked – seven to two new clusters and 13 to a growing cluster at Changi Airport. Friday marks the 19th consecutive day with local cases reported. 

The remaining 28 cases are imported, of whom 19 are returning Singaporeans or permanent residents. 

"Amongst the new cases today, 31 are asymptomatic, and were detected from our proactive screening and surveillance, while 21 were symptomatic," said the MOH.

The four unlinked cases in the community, aged between 22 and 70, are:

  • a 39-year-old male China national employed by SATS Food Services as a chef at Changi Prison (fully vaccinated)

  • a 22-year-old Singaporean man who works as a cook at a WOK HEY outlet at White Sands

  • a 70-year-old Singaporean woman who is a retiree

  • a 48-year-old Singaporean man who works as a GrabFood delivery personnel

All four cases' serology test results are pending.

New Learning Point tutor cluster: 5 new cases, 6 in total

The new "Case 63131" cluster is named after the case number of a 50-year-old Singaporean woman who works as a tutor at Learning Point at Parkway Centre and was confirmed to have COVID-19 on 12 May.

It is one of two new clusters identified on Friday. Five new cases, all of whom are Singaporeans who have attended the tutor's classes, have been linked to the cluster:

  • a 9-year-old male student at St Stephen’s School

  • a 9-year-old female student at Kong Hwa School

  • a 9-year-old male student at St Andrew’s Junior School

  • an 8-year-old male student at Kong Hwa School

  • a 7-year-old male student at St Stephen’s School

All five cases' serology test results are pending.

New Sengkang General Hospital nurse cluster: 1 new case, 3 in total

The second new cluster has been named the "Case 63096" cluster, after a 33-year-old Filipino man who works as an operating theatre nurse at Sengkang General Hospital and was confirmed to have COVID-19 on 11 May.

The man has tested preliminarily positive for the Indian variant – or B1617 – and is pending further confirmatory tests.

A 7-year-old Filipino boy who studies at Yio Chu Kang Primary School, a household contact of the nurse, is also among three cases in the cluster.

On Friday, the MOH announced that a 39-year-old Filipino man who works at Unity Pharmacy is linked to the new cluster. He is a family member of the boy and household contact of the nurse.

He had received his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on 23 February, and the second dose on 22 March. His serology test result is pending, said the MOH.

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Changi Airport cluster: 13 new cases, 59 in total

With 13 new infections linked to it, the 59-case Changi Airport cluster, or the "Case 62873" cluster, is now the largest of 13 active clusters in Singapore. It is also the largest cluster recorded to date in Singapore, superseding the now-inactive cluster of 47 cases at Safra Jurong.

At least 17 cases in the cluster have tested preliminarily positive for the Indian variant, or B1617.

The cluster is named after an 88-year-old Singaporean man who is employed by Ramky Cleantech Services as a cleaner deployed at Changi Airport Terminal 3. The fully-vaccinated man was confirmed to have COVID-19 on 5 May. 

Among the 13 new cases linked to the cluster on Friday, six, aged between 27 and 67, work at Changi Airport:

  • a 27-year-old Singaporean man who works as a sales executive at a retail store at T3 (fully vaccinated)

  • a 57-year-old Singaporean man who works as an Immigration and Checkpoints (ICA) officer at T3 (fully vaccinated)

  • a 51-year-old Singaporean man who works as an ICA officer at T3 (fully vaccinated)

  • a 28-year-old Singaporean man employed by Certis Cisco as an aviation security officer at T3 (fully vaccinated)

  • a 67-year-old Singaporean man employed by Certis Cisco as an aviation screening officer at T1 (fully vaccinated)

  • a 29-year-old Malaysian man employed by Idemia Singapore as an IT support engineer at T1 and T4

The remaining seven linked to the cluster, aged between 25 and 91, work at various places, including the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), Ngee Ann City, an unidentified language school, and Kopitiam Square:

  • a 25-year-old Malaysia woman who works as service personnel at a Ngee Ann City store

  • a 39-year-old Singaporean woman who works as a principal at a language school

  • a 60-year-old Singaporean woman who works as an MOM administrative staff

  • a 46-year-old Malaysian man who works as a cleaner at Kopitiam Square (received one dose of vaccine)

  • a 39-year-old Malaysia man who works as a cleaner at Kopitiam Square

  • a 91-year-old Singaporean woman who is a homemaker

  • a 53-year-old female China national employed by Ramky Cleantech Services as a cleaner at Robinson 77 (received one dose of vaccine)

Twelve of the cases' serology test results are pending, while the MOH did not specify the status of the serology tests for the 53-year-old cleaner.

Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung, who was speaking at a virtual media briefing by the COVID-19 multi-ministry taskforce on Friday morning said that a "very virulent" variant of COVID-19 has broken through the layers of defence at Changi Airport.

Of the first 20-odd infections detected at the airport, most had congregated around one zone, comprising a finger pier – an area that receives arrivals from higher-risk regions, including South Asia – the conveyor belt and immigration, he added.

TTSH nurse cluster: 1 new case, 45 in total

He is an 88-year-old Singaporean man who had been warded in the hospital's Ward 9D from 19 April, and was transferred to the National Centre for Infectious Diseases (NCID) on 29 April, and has been warded there since. His serology test result is negative, said the MOH.

With 45 cases, the Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH) cluster is the second-largest out of 13 active clusters in Singapore.

Within the "Case 62541" cluster – named after the case number of a Filipino nurse who is deployed at Ward 9D – at least nine cases, including the nurse, had already been fully vaccinated.

The nurse was confirmed to be infected with the Indian variant of the virus on 4 May, along with four others in the TTSH cluster: a fully vaccinated doctor who attended to patients in Ward 9D, and three patients of the ward aged between 57 and 79.

Phase 2 (Heightened Alert) measures

The MOH added several places to a list of public venues visited by infectious community cases. Among them are the Marina Bay Sands Casino, a Daiso outlet at Tampines 1, Web Pub & Karaoke at 156 Joo Chiat Road and So Good Bakery at TripleOne Somerset.

It said that the number of new cases in the community has increased from 43 in the week before to 91 in the past week. The number of unlinked cases in the community has increased from nine in the week before to 16 in the past week.

Authorities on Friday announced a slew of tighter safe management measures under Phase 2 (Heightened Alert), which will begin this Sunday through to 13 June, to curb the spread of the virus.

These measures include banning dining-in at F&B establishments, reinstating work from home as default work arrangement, as well as cutting down group sizes for social gatherings and visitors per household from five to two persons.

28 imported cases, including 19 S'pore residents

Of the 28 imported cases, six are Singaporeans and 13 are PRs who returned from India, Indonesia, South Korea, and the UK.

Another is a student’s pass holder who arrived from Thailand. Three others are work pass holders who arrived from Nepal and Papua New Guinea.

Four cases are work permit holders who arrived from Bangladesh, Indonesia, and the Philippines, of whom three are foreign domestic workers.

The remaining case is a short-term visit pass holder who arrived from Indonesia to seek medical treatment and visit his family member who is a PR. He arrived from Indonesia on 23 April and served his stay-home notice at a dedicated facility until 7 May. His swab done on 6 May was negative for COVID-19. 

The man was detected when he was tested for COVID-19 on 12 May in preparation for surgery. As his test results, including his serological results, indicate he is likely suffering from a past infection, he has been classified as an imported case. 

"He is likely to be shedding minute fragments of the virus RNA, which are no longer transmissible and infective to others, said the MOH.

All of the 28 imported cases were placed on the stay-home notice upon their arrival in Singapore and were tested while serving their notice. The arrivals from the Indian sub-continent had already come into Singapore before the restrictions on travel were imposed.

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99% of total cases have recovered, 3 in ICU

With 18 more patients discharged from hospitals or community isolation facilities on Friday, 61,047 cases – or 99.3 per cent of the total – have fully recovered from the infection.

Most of the 180 hospitalised cases are stable or improving, while three of them are in critical condition in the intensive care unit.

A total of 247 patients – with mild symptoms or are clinically well but still test positive – are isolated and cared for at community facilities.

Apart from the 31 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 194 confirmed cases reported from 8 to 14 May, 66 cases have tested positive for their serology tests, 88 have tested negative, and 40 serology test results are pending.

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