[UPDATE at 2.40pm on Saturday, 1 May 2021: 313 Somerset and AMK Hub, previously listed as having been visited by a case from the TTSH cluster on 26 and 27 April have been removed from the list of places visited by the community during the infectious period.]
SINGAPORE — All public places visited by COVID-19 cases in the Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH) cluster, including places of worship and those in at least nine malls, will be closed for two days for cleaning and to facilitate the testing of staff there for COVID-19.
These places, which were visited by 13 infectious community cases linked to the cluster as of Friday (30 April), include:
3 mosques: Masjid Hajjah Fatimah, Masjid Al-Falah, Masjid Abdul Hamid Kg Pasiran
One church: City Harvest Church at Jurong West
Places within nine shopping malls: AMK Hub, Orchard Central, Junction 8, VivoCity, Esplanade Xchange, Bugis +, Bugis Junction, 100AM, 313 Somerset
Places visited within the shopping malls include an arcade – Paco Funworld Bugis + – as well as three NTUC FairPrice/FairPrice Xtra outlets at Toa Payoh Hub, Kitchener Complex, and VivoCity, respectively. The full list, which has not been finalised, is as follows:
Surveillance testing for discharged TTSH patients, and more
The MOH said it will also carry out surveillance testing for patients who had been discharged from, and visitors to, the TTSH on or after 18 April; as well as individuals who had been to or who work at the public places that the TTSH cluster cases had visited during their infectious period.
"Our testing is ongoing and we expect to detect more cases in the coming days," said Health Minister Gan Kim Yong, co-chair of the multi-ministry task force on COVID-19, who spoke at a virtual media conference on Friday.
"The next few days will be critical: if we find many more cases that suggest widespread transmission, we will have to introduce more measures to break the chain of transmission."
Healthcare institutions have also been reminded to closely monitor patients who were previously admitted at the TTSH from 18 April. And while close contacts of the confirmed cases who are at higher risk of infection have already been identified through contact-tracing, MOH is offering tests to these individuals to pre-emptively mitigate any potential risk of wider, undetected community transmission.
The ministry also advised all visitors and patients who were at the TTSH since 18 April to monitor their health closely for 14 days from their date of visit. They are "strongly encouraged" to visit a regional screening centre (RSC) or public health preparedness clinic (PHPC) for a government-funded swab test, it added.
Starting from 3 May through 16 May, these individuals may book an appointment for a free COVID-19 PCR test at any of the “Swab and Send Home” (SASH) PHPCs islandwide or walk in to one of the following four RSCs:
Former Da Qiao Primary School, 8 Ang Mo Kio Street 54, S(569185);
Former Shuqun Secondary School, 450 Jurong East Street 21, S(609604);
Former Coral Primary School, 20 Pasir Ris Street 51, S(518902);
Former Bishan Park Secondary School, 2 Sin Ming Walk S(575565).
"We strongly encourage all individuals in the identified groups to come forward for testing. Individuals will only need to bring along their photo identification, and inform the PHPC or RSC staff of the date and time they were at the TTSH or the specified public places. The cost of these tests will be fully borne by the government," said the MOH.
These announcements come on the same day the MOH confirmed an additional four cases linked to a fully vaccinated nurse at the TTSH, bringing the total linked cases in the cluster to 13.
The new "case 62541" cluster, named after the 46-year-old Filipina's case number, includes at least one fully-vaccinated doctor and six patients, with the oldest aged 94.
Four TTSH wards locked down
Four general wards – 7D, 10B, 9C and 9D – where both infected staff and patients had been, have since been locked down. This means that there is no movement in or out of the wards, except for essential tests. "Even then, when we do move them, we take full precautions moving them," said TTSH chief executive Dr Eugene Soh, who was addressing reporters at a virtual media conference.
"We will not admit any further patients into that ward and we will have a dedicated group of staff, taking care of those patients in the ward. That is essential for us to put a barrier here, to make sure that we keep the patients in the ward safe, as well as keep those outside the ward safe as well."
All close contacts of the identified cases, including patients, visitors and staff who have been in the affected wards, have also been placed on quarantine. A total of 76 staff members have been placed on a leave of absence (LOA) , awaiting their quarantine orders based on further contact tracing. Dr Soh added that he anticipates more staff will be placed on LOA or quarantine.
In addition, 61 patients, including confirmed COVID-19 patients, have been transferred to the National Centre for Infectious Diseases (NCID).
In lieu of the growing cluster, the hospital has been testing all TTSH staff and patients who were in the TTSH Main Block Levels 3 to 13 from 18 to 28 April. According to Dr Soh, all 1,100 inpatients and 4,500 staff working in the main TTSH wards will be swabbed, with the former to complete swabbing by Friday evening. Staff members will complete their swab tests by the weekend.
It has also stepped up clinical surveillance of all inpatients who may develop fever and ARI symptoms, as well as restrict movement of healthcare workers in the hospital, including the suspension of all healthcare student postings at the TTSH and non-essential trainings.
Visitors to the hospital have also been barred, except on a compassionate basis to patients who are critically ill.
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