All 11 new COVID cases in S'pore asymptomatic; none in community for 2nd day in a row

A coronavirus disease (COVID-19) swab test robot called SwabBot performs a self-administered nasal swab on a man during a demonstration in Singapore September 25, 2020.  REUTERS/Edgar Su
A COVID-19 swab test robot called SwabBot performs a self-administered nasal swab on a man during a demonstration in Singapore. (PHOTO: Reuters/Edgar Su)

SINGAPORE — The Ministry of Health (MOH) confirmed 11 new cases in Singapore as of Friday (25 September), bringing the country’s total to 57,665.

The ministry also added three new places to its list of places visited by community cases while infectious: Ion Orchard, Paragon’s Muji outlet, and Lucky Plaza which was visited thrice.

All 11 new cases are asymptomatic and were proactively detected, said the MOH. There are no cases in the community for the second day in a row, while there are two imported cases.

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

Overall, nine per cent of the new cases have no established links. The MOH said the number of new cases in the community has remained stable at an average of fewer than one case per day in the past two weeks.

Similarly, the number of unlinked cases in the community has also remained stable at an average of fewer than one case per day in the past two weeks.

The imported cases are a work pass holder and a work permit holder currently employed here who arrived from India and the Philippines respectively on 13 September. They had been placed on the 14-day stay-home notice upon their arrival here and were tested while serving their notice at dedicated facilities, said the MOH.

Two cases in dorms detected via surveillance testing

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

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

In a separate joint press release on Friday, the MOH and the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) said 232 new cases had been detected through routine testing since 11 August when all dorms were declared cleared of COVID-19.

When such new COVID-19 cases were detected, workers previously uninfected and those who have recovered 120 days since their infection living in the same block would be quarantined.

Following a review of over 31 purpose-built dorms, 20 decant sites as well as 107 factory-converted dorms and construction temporary quarters, the MOM said the Assurance, Care & Engagement Group (ACE Group) will adopt a “more targeted and differentiated quarantine approach”.

This will minimise work disruption and be more sustainable, it added.

Under the new approach, in dorms that have no intermixing between workers, where workers observe safe living measures and where segregation measures that have been put in place by dorm operators, workers may be quarantined by levels or sections instead of the entire blocks, said the MOM.

“Those who have recovered and are within 150 days from their infection will not be quarantined. This is in view of the latest medical evidence which showed that these workers continue to have antibodies to guard against re-infection,” it added.

An example given would be the Westlite Woodlands, where a new case was detected via the rostered routine testing.

“Under the previous approach, we would have quarantined all 318 workers in the block. With the new differentiated and targeted approach, only 68 workers (close contacts) were quarantined as proper safe living measures were in place to ensure proper segregation, such that the remaining six levels were not affected,” said the MOM.

The ministry added that the ACE Group would continue to refine its quarantine strategy, as advised by the MOH, and based “on the latest knowledge on how transmission spread occurs in dormitory clusters, the specific risks in individual dormitories, and the susceptibility of recovered workers to reinfection”.

Of Singapore’s COVID-19 tally, 54,379 – or 94.3 per cent – are foreign workers living in dorms.

99% of total cases have recovered

With eight more patients discharged from hospitals or community isolation facilities on Friday, 57,341 cases – or 99.4 per cent of the total – have fully recovered from the infection.

Most of the 29 hospitalised cases are stable or improving, while none is in critical condition in the intensive care unit.

A total of 268 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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