COVID-19: Singapore confirms 1 new case bringing total to 85; 3 more discharged

A man wearing a protective face mask at Chinatown in Singapore on 19 February, 2020. (PHOTO: Barcroft Media via Getty Images)

SINGAPORE — The Ministry of Health (MOH) on Thursday (20 February) confirmed one new case of the novel coronavirus in Singapore, bringing the total to 85.

The new case, a 36-year-old male Chinese national, did not travel to China recently.

Contact tracing for the man is underway to establish any links to previous cases or travel history to China, said the ministry. In all, nine out of 63 locally transmitted cases currently have no established links to previous cases or travel history to mainland China.

Separately, three more patients have been discharged from the hospital, including two Chinese nationals, 56 and 38, and a 28-year-old Singaporean man linked to the Grace Assembly of God cluster.

This brings the total of those who have fully recovered from the infection and have been discharged from hospital to 37.

Case 85: Chinese national with work pass

The 36-year-old male Chinese national, a Singapore work pass holder, tested positive for the virus on Thursday morning. He is currently warded in an isolation room at the National Centre for Infectious Diseases (NCID).

The ministry said that most of the 48 remaining patients in the hospital are stable or improving. Four remain in critical condition in the intensive care unit.

As of Thursday noon, the MOH has identified 2,616 close contacts who have been quarantined. Of these, 1,147 are currently quarantined, and 1,469 have completed their quarantine.

It also reiterated its advice for Singaporeans to defer all travel to Hubei province, home to Wuhan where the virus originated, and all non-essential travel to mainland China.

More details on case 83 & 84: Locals linked to churches

The ministry also provided more details on two locally transmitted cases, a 54-year-old Singaporean man and a 35-year-old Singaporean woman, who were announced on Wednesday. Both had not travelled to China recently.

The man, the sixth case linked to The Life Church and Missions Singapore cluster, was said to travel frequently to Malaysia for work purposes. The ministry had not specified his occupation.

The man reported developing symptoms on 28 January and had sought treatment at a general practitioner clinic on 1 February, 5 February, 6 February and 10 February.

He went to the NCID on Tuesday. He had tested positive for the virus the next morning and is currently warded in an isolation room at the NCID.

Prior to his hospital admission, the Rivervale Drive resident had gone to work at Philemon Singapore at 16 Kallang Place

Previous cases linked to the church included a married couple from Wuhan and three other Singaporeans.

(INFOGRAPHIC: Yahoo News Singapore)

The woman, the 22nd patient linked to the Grace Assembly of God cluster, had gone to work at Lonza Biologics at 35 Tuas South Avenue 6 and visited Bugis Junction prior to her hospital admission.

The Aljunied Road resident had reported developing symptoms on 4 February and had sought treatment at a general practitioner clinic on 4 and 5 February.

She is linked to a 28-year-old Singaporean man, previously confirmed as a case also linked to the church, who was discharged on Thursday.

As she was identified as his contact, the woman was referred to the NCID on Tuesday and tested positive for the virus the next morning. She is currently warded in an isolation room at the NCID.

COVID-19’s death toll surpasses SARS epidemic

The novel strain belongs to the same family of coronaviruses as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), which killed nearly 800 people globally during a 2002-2003 outbreak and also started in China.

It 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.

Declared a global emergency by the World Health Organisation (WHO), COVID-19 has spread to 29 territories beyond mainland China. The WHO also said that cases being transmitted by people who have never travelled to China could be the "tip of the iceberg".

By territory, Singapore has the fourth-highest number of confirmed COVID-19 cases after mainland China, South Korea, and Japan.

The global tally includes cruise ship Diamond Princess, moored off Japan, which has 634 cases and two deaths so far. Five Singaporeans on board the ship have reported that they are physically well, said a Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson last Wednesday, in response to Yahoo News Singapore’s queries.

To date, the virus has left more than 2,000 people in China dead and sickened over 75,000 globally.

Eleven deaths from the outbreak have been reported outside mainland China. Five territories – Japan, Taiwan, the Philippines, France, and South Korea – have each reported the death of a patient infected with the virus. Hong Kong announced its second death on Wednesday.

Two fatalities were confirmed in Iran a day after. On the same day, Japan announced that two of its nationals died in the hospital after leaving the Diamond Princess for treatment.

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.

(INFOGRAPHIC: Yahoo News Singapore)

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