COVID-19: MOH probing possible transmission between 2 SGH patients

Amir Hussain
Senior Reporter

SINGAPORE — The Ministry of Health (MOH) is investigating the possibility that a 77-year-old man was infected with the novel coronavirus at a Singapore General Hospital (SGH) ward.

The man (Case 126) tested positive for COVID-19 on Thursday. He was one of 13 new cases announced on Friday. He had been quarantined since Wednesday and is currently hospitalised at the National Centre for Infectious Diseases (NCID), the MOH said on Friday (6 March).

The MOH did not elaborate on his condition prior to being warded at SGH.

He had been in the same SGH ward for two days as a previously announced case, a 70-year-old man (Case 109) who tested positive for the virus on Monday.

Both men had no travel history to affected territories and did not meet the case definition for the virus but had acute respiratory infection.

They were hospitalised at SGH over the weekend from 29 February to 1 March, where there was three metres of separation between beds.

“As part of enhanced precautions (with the Orange alert level), patients who have acute respiratory infection will be placed in wards with greater separation between patients to minimise the risk of infection,” the ministry said in a press release on Friday.

Speaking to reporters at a briefing on Friday evening, Associate Professor Kenneth Mak, the ministry’s director of medical services, said, “There is a suspicion that in fact, the two cases are linked, and they may have been linked with a spread of infection possibly from one case to another. We still have to confirm this and prove this.”

He added that the ministry is “working closely with the hospital to determine whether any of their measures in fact had fallen short, whether or not they in fact had any situations where despite the best efforts there might have been even still some close contact between these patients”.

The 70-year-old man, who works at Fish Mart Sakuraya along West Coast Road, first had symptoms on 25 February. He had gone to work but did not serve customers or handle food.

He went to a general practitioner two days later, and again on 28 February. He went to SGH on 29 February.

He tested positive for the virus on Monday. As of Tuesday, when MOH announced his case, he was isolated at SGH.

Yahoo News Singapore has reached out to SGH for comment.

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