COVID-19: Singapore confirms three new cases; six-month-old infant discharged with mother

People wearing protective face masks on the MRT train in Singapore. (PHOTO: Maverick Asio/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

SINGAPORE — The Ministry of Health (MOH) on Saturday (22 February) confirmed three new cases of the COVID-19 coronavirus in Singapore, bringing the total to 89.

Of the new cases, one is linked to the cluster at Grace Assembly of God, and one was among the group of Singaporeans who were evacuated from Wuhan on 9 February.

Separately, two more patients – a six-month-old infant Singaporean along with his mother, a permanent resident who is an employee of the health products shop Yong Thai Hang – have been discharged from the hospital.

This brings the total of those who have fully recovered from the infection and have been discharged to 49, more than half of the total confirmed cases.

Case 87: Evacuated from Wuhan on 9 February

Case 87 is a 32-year-old male Singapore citizen who was among the group of Singaporeans who were evacuated from Wuhan on 9 February. He was without symptoms when he boarded the flight and was put under quarantine upon landing in Singapore. He was confirmed to have COVID-19 infection on Friday afternoon.

He is currently warded in an isolation room at the National Centre for Infectious Diseases (NCID). He is linked to the one-year-old baby patient, who has already been discharged.

Case 88: Linked to Grace Assembly of God

Case 88 is a 30-year-old female Singapore citizen who has no recent travel history to China. She is currently warded in an isolation room at NCID. She is linked to an earlier 28-year-old male patient who is an employee at Grace Assembly of God.

She reported onset of symptoms on 16 February and had sought treatment at a general practitioner (GP) clinic on Monday. As she had been identified as a contact of the male patient, she was referred by MOH to NCID on Friday. Subsequent test results confirmed COVID-19 infection on Friday afternoon.

Prior to hospital admission, she had mostly stayed at her home at Hougang Street 91.

Case 89: permanent resident with no travel history to China

Case 89 is a 41-year-old male Singapore permanent resident who has no recent travel history to China.

He was confirmed to have COVID-19 infection on Saturday morning, and is currently warded in an isolation room at NCID.

Contact tracing is underway to establish any links to previous cases. Once identified, MOH will closely monitor all close contacts. As a precautionary measure, they will be quarantined for 14 days from their last exposure to the patient.

5 in ICU; most remaining cases stable

On Friday, the ministry said that most of the 40 remaining patients in the hospital are stable or improving. Five, including a 39-year-old Bangladeshi national, remain in critical condition in the intensive care unit.

As of noon, the MOH has identified 2,734 close contacts who have been quarantined. Of these, 1,101 are currently quarantined, and 1,633 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 has the fourth-highest number of confirmed COVID-19 cases after mainland China, South Korea, and Japan.

The global tally includes cruise ship Diamond Princess, moored off Japan, which has 634 cases and two deaths so far. Five Singaporeans on board the ship have disembarked from the cruise ship.

To date, the virus has left more than 2,300 people in China dead and sickened over 77,000 globally.

Seventeen deaths from the outbreak have been reported outside mainland China. Seven territories – Japan, Taiwan, the Philippines, France, Italy, Iran and South Korea – have deaths of patients infected with the virus. Japan also announced that two of its nationals died in the hospital after leaving the Diamond Princess for treatment.

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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