Singapore has 24 Omicron cases, as 1 more airport worker tests prelim-positive

Crowds of people wearing protective face masks walk in Singapore's Orchard Road shopping district on Sunday, 12 December 2021. Singapore authorities reported on 15 December 2021, 2 persons with the Omincron variant of the Covid-19 virus who dined in restaurants along Orchard Road. (Photo by Joseph Nair/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Crowds of people wearing protective face masks walk at Orchard Road on 12 December, 2021 in Singapore. (PHOTO: NurPhoto via Getty Images)

SINGAPORE — Singapore now has 24 cases of the Omicron variant – up from the previously announced 16 – of whom three are locally transmitted infections, the Ministry of Health (MOH) confirmed on Thursday (16 December).

The ministry also said it detected one more local case who has tested preliminarily positive for the new variant.

He is a 42-year-old man who works as a loading assistant at Changi Airport Terminal 3 and had no contact with flight passengers.

The man is fully vaccinated and has mild symptoms, and is recovering in an isolation ward at the National Centre for Infectious Diseases, said the MOH.

The man had developed a fever on 8 December and sought medical treatment at a general practitioner clinic where he was tested for COVID-19.

His test result came back positive for COVID-19 the next day, and he was placed on the home recovery programme.

He was later identified as a close contact of a 54-year-old man who works as a loading cabin assistant at Changi Airport Terminal 3 and tested for the new variant on 16 December.

Along with a couple, the older man was one of three cases – and the sole local infection – announced on Wednesday to have tested preliminarily positive for Omicron. The remaining two cases are a married couple.

The National Public Health Laboratory is conducting whole-genome sequencing to confirm the variant and contact tracing is ongoing, said the MOH.

All close contacts of suspect Omicron cases will be placed on 10-day quarantine at designated facilities and undergo polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests at the start and end of their quarantine.

Those who are identified to have visited places the cases had been at, and who could potentially have interacted with them, will be issued a seven-day health risk warning, said the MOH.

On Wednesday, the MOH revealed that the couple suspected to have Omicron had dined at four restaurants: Mizuki at Ngee Ann City, Li Bai Cantonese Restaurant at Sheraton Towers Singapore, and Merci Marcel at Palais Renaissance on 8 December, and Signs A Taste Of Vietnam Pho at Orchard Gateway on 9 December.

It had said that all customer-facing restaurant staff, as well as patrons with SafeEntry check-in/out timings that coincided with the time that the couple were at the restaurants, will be issued health risk warnings. A one-time targeted PCR testing operation will also be conducted for them.

The MOH confirmed 355 new COVID-19 cases in Singapore on Thursday – bringing the country's total case count to 274,972 – as well as one death due to the disease.

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