SINGAPORE — Singapore detected 25 cases of the UK variant of COVID-19 between 23 December last year and 26 January, said the Ministry of Health (MOH) on Friday (29 January).
Twenty of them are imported cases from Europe, and five are community cases, said the MOH in response to a query by Yahoo News Singapore, adding that the National Public Health Laboratory performs viral genomic sequencing for all confirmed cases.
Two remaining imported cases from Europe are preliminarily positive and pending confirmatory results.
Epidemiological investigations are ongoing to determine if the five community cases are linked, added the ministry.
All close contacts of the cases, including those who have tested preliminarily positive for the variant, have been isolated and placed on quarantine.
Three of the five community cases infected with the UK B.1.1.7 strain were announced on Tuesday, including a 24-year-old Korean man, a work permit holder who works at Azur at Crowne Plaza Changi Airport. The other two are a 39-year-old Singaporean man and his 39-year-old Singaporean spouse.
Epidemiological investigations revealed that the Singaporean man and his spouse had visited Jewel Changi Airport on 31 December last year between 2.35pm and 9.50pm, while the Korean man was at Changi Airport Terminal 3 on the same day between 7.48pm and 8.49pm.
The remaining community infections had not been previously publicly confirmed by authorities as cases with the UK strain. They are a 43-year-old Malaysian female work permit holder and a 20-year-old Singaporean man who had tested preliminarily positive for the variant. Both also work at Azur at Crowne Plaza Changi Airport.
The three workers at Azur, including the Korean man, deliver pre-packed meals to aircrew and hotel guests and they do not interact with diners at the restaurant, said the MOH previously.
The ministry added in its response to Yahoo News Singapore that it may also perform additional active case finding to detect and ringfence cases as early as possible when there are cases who test preliminarily positive for the B.1.1.7 strain.
“No new cases have emerged from the community cases so far, and we hope that our efforts have ringfenced the cases and prevented further transmission,” said the MOH. “It is important for everyone to continue to play their part and remain vigilant to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.”
Authorities confirmed Singapore’s first case of the B.1.1.7 strain – an imported infection – on 23 December last year.
The UK variant, while not the first of the virus to emerge, is said to be up to 70 per cent more transmissible than other strains.
UK authorities have said that, in addition to being more contagious, the variant “may be associated with a higher degree of mortality”. The strain has spread to at least 60 countries, according to the World Health Organization.
Singapore confirmed 24 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, taking the country’s total case count to 59,449.
Stay in the know on-the-go: Join Yahoo Singapore's Telegram channel at http://t.me/YahooSingapore
More Singapore stories: