Coronavirus: S'pore confirms 2 new cases including Certis Cisco officer on duty at Chingay; total at 45

People seen wearing face masks along Orchard Road on 9 February 2020. (PHOTO: Dhany Osman / Yahoo News Singapore)

SINGAPORE — The Ministry of Health (MOH) on Monday (10 February) confirmed two new cases of the novel coronavirus, bringing the total number of cases to 45 here.

One of the new cases is a 37-year-old Singaporean male with no recent travel history to China.

Prior to his hospital admission, the security officer had gone to work at Certis Cisco Centre at 20 Jalan Afifi and had been on duty at this year’s Chingay, which was held on the nights of 31 January and 1 February at the F1 Pit Building.

The man reported symptoms on 31 January and had sought treatment at a general practitioner clinic on 2 February.

Prior to developing the symptoms, he had served quarantine orders on two individuals from Wuhan – where the novel strain, or 2019-nCoV, originated – who subsequently tested positive for the virus.

The MOH did not specify when exactly the man served the orders but said that he had not served any after he showed symptoms.

The Sembawang Drive resident went to Khoo Teck Puat Hospital last Thursday (6 February) where he was immediately isolated and is currently warded in an isolation room. He later tested positive for the virus on Sunday afternoon.

In response to media queries from Yahoo News Singapore, a Certis spokesperson said that the safety of its employees is a top priority and that it is focused on providing all necessary assistance to the affected security officer and his family.

“We are currently assisting the authorities with their investigations,” the spokesperson added.

The second case is a two-year-old Singaporean girl on the evacuation flight from Wuhan on 30 January.

The toddler did not show symptoms when she boarded the flight and was placed under quarantine upon landing in Singapore.

She was referred to KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital last Friday based on initial test results and was immediately isolated.

She tested positive for the virus on Monday morning and is currently warded in an insolation room in the hospital.

The MOH has said that the risk of infection from transient contact, such as on public transport or in public places, is assessed to be low for the general public.

Update on previous confirmed, suspect cases

The MOH said that seven previous confirmed cases have fully recovered and have been discharged from the hospital. Among them are a 53-year-old female Chinese national and a 35-year-old male compatriot both from Wuhan.

Of the 38 cases who are still in hospital, most are stable or improving. Seven are in critical condition in the intensive care unit.

As of Monday noon, 581 of the suspect cases have tested negative for the virus, while test results for the remaining 39 cases are pending.

Contact tracing for the confirmed cases is ongoing, said the MOH. Epidemiological investigations and contact tracing have uncovered links between 15 of 23 local transmitted cases with the three currently-known clusters: The Life Church and Missions Singapore, Yong Thai Hang and the private business meeting held at Grand Hyatt Singapore from 20 to 22 January.

The MOH added that contact tracing is underway for the other eight locally transmitted cases, including the Certis Cisco security officer, to establish if they are linked to previous cases or persons with travel history to mainland China.

To date, the ministry has identified 1,026 close contacts. Of the 927 still in Singapore, 896 have been contacted and are being quarantined or isolated. Efforts are ongoing to contact the remaining 31.

(INFOGRAPHIC: Yahoo News Singapore)

Separately, the ministry said it has looked into reports that the virus could be transmitted through aerosol.

“Based on evidence available in China, an expert from the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention has said that there is currently no evidence that the virus can be transmitted through aerosol,” it added.

“The currently known transmission routes of the virus are via respiratory droplets and physical contact.”

The ministry reiterated its advice for Singaporeans to defer all travel to Hubei province, home to Wuhan, and all non-essential travel to mainland China.

Singapore remains the country outside mainland China to have the second-highest number of cases, behind Japan’s 161. Over 130 of Japan’s cases are aboard the quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship moored off the country.

Given the heightened risk, authorities last Friday raised Singapore’s Disease Outbreak Response System Condition (Dorscon) alert level from yellow to orange amid the increase in confirmed cases of the coronavirus.

It also announced a series of measures to be taken, including the suspension of inter-school and external activities for schools until the end of the March school holidays and advising event organisers to cancel or defer non-essential large-scale events.

(INFOGRAPHIC: Ministry of Health)

Death toll surpasses SARS epidemic

The coronavirus – which has been declared a global emergency by the WHO – has spread to 27 territories beyond mainland China, sickening over 40,000 people worldwide.

China's death toll from the epidemic rose to over 800 on Sunday, surpassing the total fatalities globally from the SARS outbreak from 2002 to 2003. On Saturday, the US embassy confirmed that a US citizen died that day in the city of Wuhan, where the virus originated.

Two territories, Hong Kong and the Philippines, have each reported the death of a patient from the virus.

The new strain likely originated from Wuhan’s Huanan Seafood Market, where live animals or products – such as foxes, wolf puppies, giant salamanders, snakes, porcupines, and camel meat – are sold.

Patients suffering from the new strain may exhibit fever and symptoms of lower respiratory illness – such as coughing or difficulty in breathing – as well as pneumonia-like symptoms like a runny nose, sore throat and headache.

However, some who have died from it have not displayed symptoms of fever, according to details released by China’s National Health Commission, potentially complicating global efforts to check for infected travellers as they arrive at airports and other travel hubs.

This means that temperature screening, the most common measure being used at transport links and airports to check travellers, may not identify some infected people.

(INFOGRAPHIC: Yahoo News Singapore)

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