Sole COVID community case is a para-veterinarian with Police K-9 Unit; 44 new infections imported

Staff Writer, Singapore
·Editorial Team
·4-min read
People walking during lunch hour at the central business district in Singapore.
People walking during lunch hour at the central business district in Singapore. (PHOTO: Reuters/Edgar Su)

SINGAPORE — The Ministry of Health (MOH) confirmed 45 new COVID-19 cases in Singapore on Thursday (14 January), taking the country’s total case count to 59,029.

Of them, one is a new case of locally-transmitted infection in the community, while 44 others are imported.

“Amongst the new cases today, 41 are asymptomatic, and were detected from our proactive screening and surveillance, while four were symptomatic.” said the MOH.

This is the highest number of single-day cases reported since 14 September last year, when 48 new cases were reported.

New local case a para-veterinarian who works with Police K-9 Unit

The sole community case – currently unlinked – is a 32-year-old Singaporean man who works as a para-veterinarian with the Singapore Police Force's K-9 Unit at its headquarters at 2 Mowbray Road, said the MOH, adding that his job mainly involves teleconsultations with dog handlers.

The man developed a fever on 11 January and sought treatment at a general practitioner clinic on the same day, where he was tested for COVID-19 as part of the enhanced community testing to test all individuals aged 13 and above who are diagnosed with acute respiratory infection at first presentation to a doctor.

He had remained at home on medical leave until his result came back positive for COVID-19 two days later. The man was conveyed in an ambulance to the National Centre for Infectious Diseases.

“His serological test result has come back negative, indicating that this is likely a current infection,” said the MOH.

Epidemiological investigations into his case are ongoing and all identified close contacts of the case, including his family members and co-workers, have been isolated and quarantined, the ministry added.

They will be tested at the start and end of their quarantine period, while serological tests will also be conducted for his close contacts to determine he could have been infected by them.

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44 new imported cases, including one linked to NewOcean 6 cluster

Of the 44 imported cases, three are Singaporeans, including a seven-year-old boy, who returned from Qatar, the Philippines and UK.

Three others are dependant’s pass holders who arrived from the United Arab Emirates and Ukraine, while two are student’s pass holders who arrived from Pakistan and Myanmar.

Three are work pass holders who arrived from India and the United Arab Emirates.

Twenty-nine are work permit holders who arrived from Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Myanmar, and the Philippines, of whom 14 are foreign domestic workers.

One of the work permit holders is a sea crew who worked onboard bunker tanker NewOcean 6, bringing the total number of COVID-19 cases linked to it to 13.

He was identified as close contacts of an infected fellow crew member – case 588121 – who was the first confirmed infection from the NewOcean 6 cluster. The man was quarantined on 31 December. He was tested during quarantine and confirmed to have COVID-19 on 13 January.

The remaining four cases are short-term visit pass holders, including two who arrived from Brazil to participate in an eSport event and are contacts of a fellow participant who was confirmed as a case the day before.

The other two cases arrived from India to visit his Singaporean child and arrived from Indonesia as a caregiver to her parent who was already receiving medical care in Singapore and had returned for further treatment, respectively.

The MOH noted that the number of new cases in the community has decreased from nine in the week before to three cases in the past week.

“The number of unlinked cases in the community has also decreased from six cases in the week before to one case in the past week,” it added.

Separately, the ministry added four new locations to a list of places visited by COVID-19 community cases while they were still infectious: Chong Pang City Wet Market & Food Centre, JEM shopping centre, Junction Nine’s Sheng Siong outlet, and Sembawang Cottage’s McDonald's outlet.

These places were visited between 9 and 10 January.

99% of total cases have recovered, none in ICU

With 35 more patients discharged from hospitals or community isolation facilities on Thursday, 58,757 cases – or 99.6 per cent of the total – have fully recovered from the infection.

Most of the 41 hospitalised cases are stable or improving, and none is in the intensive care unit.

A total of 202 patients – with mild symptoms or are clinically well but still test positive – are isolated and cared for at community facilities.

Apart from 29 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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