COVID-19: Singapore confirms three more cases including two linked to churches, total at 84

People wearing protective face masks walks along Orchard Road on 14 February, 2020. (PHOTO: LightRocket via Getty Images)

SINGAPORE — The Ministry of Health (MOH) on Wednesday (19 February) confirmed three new cases of the novel coronavirus in Singapore, bringing the total to 84.

All three have not travelled recently to China. Two are linked to churches identified as clusters – one is linked to The Life Church and Missions Singapore and the other linked to Grace Assembly of God.

Contact tracing is underway for the remaining patient to establish links to previous cases, if any, or travel history to China.

This brings the total number of local transmissions with unestablished links to eight, out of 62 locally-transmitted cases.

The ministry added that five more patients have been discharged from hospital, including the first-ever confirmed case of the virus in Singapore, a Victoria Junior College teacher, and a Certis Cisco security officer. This brings the total of those who have fully recovered and have been discharged to 34.

Case 82: Admitted as dengue patient to Ng Teng Fong General Hospital

One of the new cases on Wednesday is a 57-year-old female Singaporean woman who reported developing symptoms on 9 February and had sought treatment at Jurong Polyclinic last Monday and Friday, as well as a general practitioner clinic last Wednesday.

She went to the emergency department at Ng Teng Fong General Hospital (NTFGH) last Thursday and Saturday, and was admitted as a dengue patient in a general ward on the day of her second visit.

She tested positive for the virus on Tuesday afternoon and she was immediately transferred to an isolation room in the hospital where she is currently warded.

Prior to her hospital admission, she had mostly stayed at her home at Jurong West Street 41, except to seek medical treatment.

As a precautionary measure, the patients who had shared the same room as the case while she was in the general ward have been transferred to single rooms.

They have also been tested for the virus and their results are pending.

“So far, none of the contacts have any respiratory symptoms. Contact tracing of NTFGH staff who had been in contact with the case is underway. The room has also been thoroughly cleaned and disinfected,” said the ministry.

Case 83: Linked to The Life Church and Missions Singapore

The case linked to a church cluster is a 54-year-old Singaporean man who travels frequently to Malaysia for work purposes. The ministry did not specify his occupation.

He tested positive for the virus on Wednesday morning and is currently warded in an isolation room at the National Centre for Infectious Diseases (NCID). He is the sixth case linked to the church, including a married couple from Wuhan and three other Singaporeans.

Case 84: Linked to Grace Assembly of God

The case linked to another church cluster is a 35-year-old Singaporean woman who tested positive for the virus on Wednesday morning and is currently warded in an isolation room at the NCID.

She is linked to a 28-year-old Singaporean man, previously confirmed as a case linked to the church.

The woman is the 22nd patient linked to the church, which is the biggest cluster of the virus in Singapore.

(INFOGRAPHIC: Yahoo News Singapore)

Most remaining cases stable; 4 in ICU

Most of the remaining 50 hospitalised cases are stable or improving. Four are in critical condition in the intensive care unit.

As of Wednesday noon, the ministry has identified 2,593 close contacts who have been quarantined. Of these, 1,172 are currently quarantined, and 1,421 have completed their quarantine.

It also reiterated its advice for Singaporeans to defer all travel to Hubei province, home to Wuhan where the virus originated, and all non-essential travel to mainland China.

COVID-19’s death toll surpasses SARS epidemic

The novel strain belongs to the same family of coronaviruses as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), which killed nearly 800 people globally during a 2002-2003 outbreak and also started in China.

It likely originated from Wuhan’s Huanan Seafood Market, where live animals or products – such as foxes, wolf puppies, giant salamanders, snakes, porcupines, and camel meat – are sold.

Declared a global emergency by the World Health Organisation (WHO), COVID-19 has spread to 29 territories beyond mainland China. The WHO also said that cases being transmitted by people who have never travelled to China could be the "tip of the iceberg".

By territory, Singapore, tied with Japan, has the second-highest number of confirmed COVID-19 cases after mainland China.

The global tally includes cruise ship Diamond Princess, moored off Japan, which has 621 cases so far. Five Singaporeans on board the ship have reported that they are physically well, said a Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson last Wednesday, in response to Yahoo News Singapore’s queries.

To date, the virus has left more than 2,000 people in China dead and sickened over 75,000 globally. Four territories – Japan, Taiwan, the Philippines, and France – have each reported the death of a patient infected with the virus. Hong Kong announced its second death on Wednesday.

Patients suffering from the new strain may exhibit fever and symptoms of lower respiratory illness – such as coughing or difficulty in breathing – as well as pneumonia-like symptoms like a runny nose, sore throat, and headache.

However, some who have died from it have not displayed symptoms of fever, according to details released by China’s National Health Commission, potentially complicating global efforts to check for infected travellers as they arrive at airports and other travel hubs.

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