COVID-19: Among 448 new cases, 13 are S'poreans including family linked to Cochrane Lodge II dorm

People wearing protective masks wait to enter a hair salon here on 12 May, 2020. (PHOTO: Getty Images)

SINGAPORE — The Ministry of Health (MOH) confirmed on Thursday (21 May) 448 new coronavirus cases in Singapore, bringing the total to 29,812, as well as 910 more recoveries.

The ministry also reported its 23rd fatality from COVID-19 complications here, a 73-year-old Singaporean man who died on Thursday. The man – identified as case 4689 – was confirmed to be infected on 17 April, and had a history of hypertension, high cholesterol, and low levels of thyroid hormone.

Of the 448 new cases, 434 are foreign workers living in dormitories, said the ministry. The remaining 14 are classified as community cases: 13 Singaporeans and a 36-year-old male Chinese national – a work permit holder – residing outside dorms.

Of the Singaporeans, seven – four nursing home residents and three preschool staff – were picked up from the MOH’s active surveillance and screening of nursing home residents and preschool staff, and four who are part of a family cluster linked to a dormitory.

The remaining two Singaporeans are a 68-year-old man who went to work at Jurong Penjuru Dormitory – a cluster now linked to 1,014 cases – and a 28-year-old man who went to work at Ng Teng Fong General Hospital (NTFGH) food court.

The three preschool staff, all women, include a 40-year-old who went to work at My First Skool @ 303 Canberra, a 58-year-old who went to work at PAP Community Foundation (PCF) Sparkletots Preschool @ Gambas and a 34-year-old who works at an unidentified preschool but did not go to work after developing symptoms.

These preschool staff and the man who works at the NTFGH food court were unlinked cases.

The four nursing home residents – all women residing at Orange Valley Nursing Home – ranged from ages 72 to 97. The nursing home, located at 6 Simei Street 3, between Changi General Hospital and St Andrew’s Community Hospital, has now been identified as an additional cluster.

They were confirmed to have COVID-19 infection on Wednesday and are currently cared for at Changi General Hospital (CGH), said the Agency for Integrated Care (AIC) in a separate statement.

The testing of nursing home residents follows the MOH’s earlier surveillance effort to test all nursing home staff which took place from 28 April to 8 May. All Orange Valley staff were tested for COVID-19 in early May and they had all tested negative, said the agency.

The close contacts of the four affected residents were also tested for COVID-19 as an added precaution, including the staff who had tested negative earlier in early May, it added. All such tests also came back negative.

Contact tracing is ongoing to identify and quarantine the close contacts of the residents.

“With the confirmed cases, Orange Valley has also thoroughly cleaned and disinfected the ward and affected areas of the nursing home, and will enhance the usage of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) among staff,” said the AIC.

“The MOH and AIC are working closely with Orange Valley to support them and monitor the situation...We will also support Orange Valley to ensure continuity of care for their residents during this period if required.”

The four living in the same household are linked to a 58-year-old female SMRT service ambassador from the Circle Line, who tested positive for COVID-19 on 17 May. They are a 62-year-old man who went to work at Cochrane Lodge II dorm after developing symptoms, a 34-year-old man, a 27-year-old woman, and a 33-year-old man, all of whom were confirmed to have the infection on Wednesday.

This brings the total to five household contacts of the SMRT staff member with the infection including a 30-year-old Singaporean man who tested positive on Monday.

1% of new cases no established links; averages decrease or stable

Overall, only one per cent of the new cases have no established links. The MOH said that the number of new cases in the community has decreased from an average of seven cases per day in the week before, to an average of six per day in the past week.

It added that the number of unlinked cases in the community has remained stable at an average of two per day in the past two weeks.

The ministry also said clusters linked to Natureland East Coast at 907 East Coast Road, Wing Fong Court at 10 Lorong 14 Geylang, and 112 Neythal Road are now considered inactive and closed due to the lack of linked cases for the past two incubation periods or 28 days.

Dozens of clusters linked to foreign worker dorms have been identified thus far, including Singapore’s largest cluster of 2,586 cases linked to S11 Dormitory@Punggol, followed by Sungei Tengah Lodge with 1,874 cases and Tuas View Dormitory with 1,311 cases.

The three are among the 25 dorms that have been gazetted as isolation areas and account for some 21 per cent of 27,541 infected foreign workers across dorms. Some 400,000 workers live in dorms here in Singapore.

Some 20,000 infected foreign workers are expected to be discharged by end-May, said National Development Minister Lawrence Wong at a press conference last Tuesday.


(For more details on the clusters, read 
here.)

Over 12,000 discharged in total

With 910 more cases of COVID-19 infection discharged from hospitals or community isolation facilities,  a total of 12,117 cases here have fully recovered from the infection, said the ministry on Thursday.

Most of the 901 hospitalised cases are stable or improving, while 10 are in critical condition in the intensive care unit, down from 11 on Wednesday.

A total of 16,771 cases with mild symptoms or are clinically well but still test positive are isolated and cared for at community facilities.

Apart from 23 patients who have died from COVID-19 complications, nine others who tested positive for the virus have died from unrelated causes, including three whose deaths were attributed to a heart attack and two whose deaths were attributed to coronary heart disease.

“Only cases where the attending doctor or pathologist attributes the primary or underlying cause of death as due to COVID-19 infection will be added to the COVID-19 death count,” said the MOH in previous press releases, adding that the method of assessment is consistent with international practices for classifying deaths.

It had also noted that 86 male foreign workers aged 25 to 59 died due to heart disease in Singapore in 2018.

As of 18 May, the ministry has conducted 294,414 swab tests, of which 191,260 were done on unique individuals.

This translates to around 51,600 swabs conducted per 1 million total population, and about 33,500 unique individuals swabbed per 1 million total population.

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