Almost all 11 new COVID cases in Singapore asymptomatic; lowest daily tally since 12 March

·Editorial Team
·5-min read
People eat at tables installed with plexiglass dividers at a food court in Singapore as the city state reopens the economy amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, June 19, 2020.  REUTERS/Edgar Su
People eat at tables installed with plexiglass dividers at a food court in Singapore. (PHOTO: Reuters/Edgar Su)

SINGAPORE — The Ministry of Health (MOH) confirmed 11 new COVID-19 cases in Singapore – the lowest since 12 March – as of Friday (18 September), bringing the country’s total to 57,543.

The ministry also added the State Courts and a Giant outlet at Sunshine Place to a list of public venues visited by community cases while infectious.

Of the 11 new cases, all but one are asymptomatic and were proactively detected, the MOH said.

One – a Singaporean – is classified as a case in the community, while one is an imported case who arrived from India.

The remaining nine cases are foreign workers living in the dormitories, of which five had been identified earlier as contacts of previous cases, and had already been quarantined.

Overall, 27 per cent of the new cases have no established links.

The lone community case, currently unlinked, was detected via the enhanced community testing initiative to test all individuals aged 13 and above who are diagnosed with acute respiratory infection at first presentation to a doctor.

Epidemiological investigations of the case are in progress, while all his identified close contacts have been isolated and placed on quarantine, and will be tested at the start and end of their quarantine period, said the MOH.

“We will also conduct serological tests for his household contacts to determine if he could have been infected by them,” it added.

The MOH said the number of new cases in the community has decreased, from an average of two cases per day in the week before, to an average of one per day in the past week. It added that the number of unlinked cases in the community has remained stable at fewer than one case per day in the past two weeks.

Separately, the lone imported case is a work permit holder currently employed here, and who arrived from India on 6 September. She had been placed on the 14-day stay-home notice upon her arrival here and was tested while serving her notice at a dedicated facility, said the MOH.

From 12am on Thursday, non-Singapore residents – who are not Singaporeans and permanent residents (PRs) – must test negative for the virus before they travel from India to Singapore.

The measure was announced by authorities last week given a resurgence of COVID-19 infections in India and a significant number of imported cases with recent travel to the country.

4 cases in dorms detected via surveillance testing

Amongst the 9 cases residing in dorms, five had been identified earlier as contacts of previous cases and were tested during quarantine, said the MOH.

The remaining four cases were detected through surveillance testing, such as the bi-weekly rostered routine testing of workers living in dorms.

As of Friday, about 5,700 workers who are required to undergo the routine testing have yet to do so, said the Ministry of Manpower, Economic Development Board, Building and Construction Authority, and Health Promotion Board in a joint statement on the same day.

“This is a significant reduction from the 13,000 workers from last week, and we would like to thank employers for their cooperation,” the authorities said.

The AccessCode status for the workers who have yet to undergo the routine testing will remain red and they cannot return to work.

Their AccessCode will be restored to green and they will be allowed to return to work once they have completed the testing, said authorities.

The importance of rostered routine testing is demonstrated in one of the purpose-built dorms, added the joint statement. At the end of August, only 25 per cent of residents at the dorm, which was left unnamed in the statement, who were required to undergo the testing were actually doing so.

“A total of 115 COVID-19 cases in the dorm were subsequently picked up when the Assurance, Care and Engagement (ACE) group mounted a pre-emptive test of all the residents as a precautionary measure,” said authorities.

“The cases could have been detected and contained much earlier to prevent the spread of the infection had all the workers been scheduled for their rostered routine training.

The joint statement added that the ACE Group also found multiple lapses on the implementation of safe distancing measures and has notified the dorm operator to correct these lapses.

“In addition, the dormitory operator will improve safe living measures through additional segregation infrastructure to limit intermixing between residents,” it said.

Of Singapore’s COVID-19 tally, 54,289 – or 94.3 per cent – are foreign workers living in dorms.

99% of total cases have recovered

With 32 more patients discharged from hospitals or community isolation facilities on Friday, 57,071 cases – or 99.2 per cent of the total – have fully recovered from the infection.

Most of the 38 hospitalised cases are stable or improving, while none is in critical condition in the intensive care unit.

A total of 407 patients with mild symptoms or are clinically well but still test positive are isolated and cared for at community facilities.

Apart from 27 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.

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