Screening ends at block where TB cases were found

Health screening at Block 203 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 3 on June 17. Screening for tuberculosis at the block where TB cases were found ended, on June 19.
Health screening at Block 203 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 3 on June 17. Screening for tuberculosis at the block where TB cases were found ended, on June 19.ST PHOTO: LAU FOOK KONG

About 230 people have been screened for tuberculosis at an Ang Mo Kio block where a cluster of multi-drug-resistant TB cases was identified recently.

The Ministry of Health (MOH), giving an update at the end of its on-site TB screening at the void deck, said that the residents and former residents had been tested at Block 203, in Ang Mo Kio Avenue 3, since screening started last Thursday.

Of these, nine said they had a cough for more than three weeks, and were referred to Tan Tock Seng Hospital's TB Control Unit for further tests. Another 13 aged five and below were given screening appointments at the unit as the tests are different for young children.

About 350 people live in the block.

MOH said that it expects to detect some cases of latent TB - when a person has TB bacteria in his body but there are no symptoms, as such infections are not uncommon in the general population.

These may not be related to the cluster.

In what the ministry said was a "highly unusual occurrence", six residents in the block were diagnosed with the same strain of multi-drug-resistant TB over a four-year period.

MOH added that its officers and grassroots volunteers had reached out to more than 80 per cent of households in the 160-unit block by going door to door. Those tested will get their screening results within two weeks.

The ministry added that it has made arrangements for residents and former residents who lived in the block from July 2011 to be screened free of charge at any Sata CommHealth clinic until the end of the month. After June 30, they may make an appointment to be screened at the Tan Tock Seng Hospital's TB Control Unit.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 20, 2016, with the headline 'Screening ends at block where TB cases were found'. Print Edition | Subscribe