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Singapore's 75 new COVID-19 cases asymptomatic, 31 from Westlite Toh Guan dorm

A lab technician places a face mask through a bacterial filtration efficiency tester during a media tour of a Setsco laboratory that tests surgical masks in Singapore on August 18, 2020. (Photo by ROSLAN RAHMAN / AFP) (Photo by ROSLAN RAHMAN/AFP via Getty Images)
A lab technician places a face mask through a bacterial filtration efficiency tester at a Setsco laboratory in Singapore on 18 August, 2020. (PHOTO: AFP via Getty Images)

SINGAPORE — The Ministry of Health (MOH) confirmed 75 new COVID-19 cases in Singapore – its highest daily tally in over a week – bringing the country’s total to 57,166 on Wednesday (9 September).

All 75 cases are asymptomatic and were proactively detected, said the ministry.

Of them, one is classified as a community case, while 14 are imported cases, including nine who arrived from India.

The remaining 60 cases are foreign workers living in dormitories, of which 31 are from the Westlite Toh Guan dorm. A total of 29 workers had been identified earlier as contacts of previous cases, and had already been quarantined, said the MOH.

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

The sole community case was detected via the rostered routine testing of workers in the construction, marine, and process sectors who are living outside the dorms. He is one of the 189 cases linked to the Kenyon/UBS construction site cluster.

Two Singaporeans and seven permanent residents, among the 14 imported cases, returned to Singapore from India between 24 and 28 August, and Ghana on 28 August.

Another four are work pass or permit holders currently employed in Singapore who arrived from the Philippines and India on 28 August. The remaining case is a student’s pass holder who arrived from Kazakhstan on 29 August.

All of them had been placed on the 14-day stay-home notice upon their arrival here, and had been tested while serving their notice at dedicated facilities, said the MOH.

The ministry noted the number of new cases in the community has decreased, from an average of three cases per day in the week before, to an average of two per day in the past week.

Similarly, the number of unlinked cases in the community has also decreased, from an average of two cases per day in the week before, to an average of one per day in the past week.

Over half of cases in dorms detected via surveillance testing

Amongst the 60 cases residing in dorms, 29 had been identified earlier as contacts of previous cases and were tested during quarantine to determine their status.

The remaining 31 cases were detected through surveillance testing, such as the bi-weekly rostered routine testing of workers living in dorms.

A vast majority of the 31 cases from the Westlite Toh Guan dorm, had been placed on quarantine earlier and were tested during quarantine to determine their status, the MOH said.

Besides the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test, or swab test, serological tests were also conducted to determine if some of the cases are current or past infections, the ministry added.

“The serological test results for 22 cases have come back positive so far, which indicate likely past infections,” it said.

Second Minister for Manpower Tan See Leng during a virtual press conference helmed by the COVID-19 multi-ministry taskforce on Wednesday evening called the rostered routine testing system a “key lever” in the authorities’ detection strategy.

The PCR test may not have detected the low viral load of infected cases in the dorms, as the results are dependent on when it was administered during the cycle of the incubation of the virus, he said.

Since the dorms were declared cleared of COVID-19 on 11 August, about 45 new COVID-19 cases have been detected among such places of residence daily.

“That's why we tightened the dragnet by implementing back to back this routine rostered testing,” Dr Tan explained.

To date, 90 per cent of workers have been scheduled for the testing and authorities expect to reach 100 per cent over the next few weeks, he said.

Such workers living in dorms make up 94.4 per cent – or 53,975 cases – of Singapore’s total COVID-19 tally.

Some 99% of total cases have recovered

With 31 more patients discharged from hospitals or community isolation facilities on Wednesday, 56,492 cases – or 98.9% of the total – have fully recovered from the infection.

Most of the 34 hospitalised cases are stable or improving, while none is in critical condition in the intensive care unit.

A total of 613 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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