S'porean woman, 95, among 261 new COVID-19 cases; likely past infection

Students wearing masks are pictured on a bus during their commute to school amid the coronavirus disease outbreak in Singapore on 3 June, 2020. (PHOTO: Reuters)

SINGAPORE — The Ministry of Health (MOH) confirmed on Friday (5 June) 261 new COVID-19 cases in Singapore – including a 95-year-old Singaporean woman – bringing the total to 37,183.

The ministry had partly attributed the “lower number” – the lowest daily tally since 12 April’s 233 cases – to “fewer swabs being conducted”, but did not elaborate.

It also identified an additional cluster of 13 cases linked to a foreign worker dormitory at 781 Woodlands Avenue 9.

Of the 261 new cases, 250 are foreign workers living in dorms, said the ministry, while 11 others are classified as cases in the community.

Of the 11 community cases, eight are asymptomatic. The ministry said it had swabbed them as part of their proactive surveillance or to verify their statuses during the quarantine period.

Amongst the six local residents – five Singaporeans and one permanent resident – the Singaporeans, aged between 38 to 95, are linked to previously confirmed cases and had already been placed on quarantine.

The 49-year-old male permanent resident, who stays at Cassia @ Penjuru dorm, was proactively tested.

Amongst the five work permit holders, four had been picked up during the ministry’s proactive screening, the MOH said.

Of the four, three men – two Bangladeshis, aged 49 and 35, and one Indian national aged 30 – were tested before they are due to start work in essential services. All three are classified as local unlinked cases.

The fourth man – an Indian national aged 32 – was tested as part of the screening of migrant workers residing at shophouses located at Balestier Road, due to their proximity to another cluster in the same area.

Epidemiological investigations are ongoing for the remaining case, identified as a 36-year-old Malaysian man.

Besides the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests, or swab tests, serological tests were conducted on the community cases to determine whether they are current or past infections, added the ministry.

“The serological test results of three cases – 36970, 36971, and 36973 – have come back positive, which indicate likely past infections. Results are pending for the rest,” it said.

The three cases the ministry was referring to are the 95-year-old Singaporean woman, a 65-year-old Singaporean woman, and the 32-year-old male Indian national residing at a shophouse located at Balestier Road.

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

The MOH noted the number of new cases in the community has increased from an average of five cases per day in the week before to an average of six per day in the past week.

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

Separately, the ministry announced the closure of the cluster linked to Acacia Home at 30 Admiralty Street, as there have been no cases linked to it 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 2,721 cases linked to S11 Dormitory@Punggol, followed by Sungei Tengah Lodge with 2,020 cases, Jurong Penjuru Dormitory with 1,465 cases, and Tuas View Dormitory with 1,391 cases.

The four are among the 25 dorms that have been gazetted as isolation areas and account for some 22 per cent of the total 34,881 infected foreign workers living in dorms.

Some 400,000 such workers live in dorms here in Singapore.

National Development Minister and co-chair of the COVID-19 multi-ministry taskforce Lawrence Wong had at a 12 May press conference said that some 20,000 infected foreign workers are expected to be discharged by end-May.

(For more information on clusters, click here.)

Over 24,000 cases discharged

With 305 more patients discharged from hospitals or community isolation facilities, a total of 24,209 – over 65 per cent of total cases here – here have fully recovered from the infection, said the MOH on Friday.

Most of the 307 hospitalised cases are stable or improving, while four are in critical condition in the intensive care unit, down from five on Thursday.

A total of 12,643 patients with mild symptoms or are clinically well but still test positive are isolated and cared for at community facilities.

Apart from 24 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.

As of 1 June, the ministry has conducted 408,495 swab tests, of which 264,393 were done on unique individuals. This translates to around 71,700 swabs conducted per 1 million total population, and about 46,400 unique individuals swabbed per 1 million total population.

Public places visited by community cases

The MOH has been publishing a list of locations visited by cases in the community for over 30 minutes since last Monday.

This list – which excludes residences, workplaces, healthcare facilities, and public transport – will be updated on a rolling 14-day basis or one incubation period, the ministry said.

(TABLE: MOH)

As a precautionary measure, the MOH advised those who had been at these locations during the specified timings to monitor their health closely for 14 days from their date of visit.

They have also been urged by the ministry to visit the doctor if they develop symptoms such as cough, sore throat, as well as fever and loss of taste or smell, and inform the doctor of their exposure history.

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