TB screening station set up at Ang Mo Kio block

Ang Mo Kio Block 203 resident Ng Kim Beng, 67, was one of those who underwent the tuberculosis screening yesterday, which included a blood test at the block's void deck (left) and an X-ray in a medical services bus (below). Results from the tests and
Ang Mo Kio Block 203 resident Ng Kim Beng, 67, was one of those who underwent the tuberculosis screening yesterday, which included a blood test at the block's void deck (above) and an X-ray in a medical services bus. Results from the tests and X-rays will be made available to residents within two weeks.ST PHOTOS: SEAH KWANG PENG
Ang Mo Kio Block 203 resident Ng Kim Beng, 67, was one of those who underwent the tuberculosis screening yesterday, which included a blood test at the block's void deck (left) and an X-ray in a medical services bus (below). Results from the tests and
Ang Mo Kio Block 203 resident Ng Kim Beng, 67, was one of those who underwent the tuberculosis screening yesterday, which included a blood test at the block's void deck and an X-ray in a medical services bus (above). Results from the tests and X-rays will be made available to residents within two weeks.ST PHOTOS: SEAH KWANG PENG

About 70 current and former residents of affected block undergo tests after outbreak

A tuberculosis screening station was set up yesterday at the Ang Mo Kio housing block where a "highly unusual" outbreak of the disease was revealed earlier this week.

Around 70 people - both residents and former residents of the block - were tested for the disease.

The screening took place at the affected block in Ang Mo Kio Avenue 3, which houses around 350 people. Results from blood tests and X-rays will be made available to residents within two weeks.

Many living in Block 203 said they were going as a precaution.

The Ministry of Health (MOH) revealed on Wednesday how six residents of the block were diagnosed with the same drug-resistant strain of the disease between February 2012 and last month.

The four households involved said they did not know one another and had not interacted. However, TB transmission typically requires "close and prolonged contact".

The Straits Times understands that the first patient in this cluster, who was diagnosed in February 2012, is linked to another drug-resistant TB outbreak, reported in 2013, which was traced to three cybercafes in Parklane shopping mall.

The ministry informed the block's residents about the situation on Wednesday night and started screening at 9am yesterday.

Residents were asked questions such as if they or their family members had a history of TB, as well as whether they had been coughing.

"My neighbour coughs a lot - I can hear him at home and it's been going on for a few months," said retiree Khoo Bah Tee, 73. "But I'm not worried (as) we don't talk to each other."

Madam Tew Sui Hong, 74, did not go for screening, saying she felt well. "If you feel sick, you'd know it - you'll be coughing and feeling weak. I feel perfectly healthy, so I don't see a need to go down," she said.

Dr Koh Poh Koon, who is an MP for Ang Mo Kio GRC, visited the screening station yesterday to speak with residents. "It's important that they understand what TB is all about, and to allay their anxiety," he said.

Dr Koh joined MOH officers and grassroots volunteers on Wednesday night to explain the situation and distribute leaflets to residents.

They will continue to do so for the next few nights. "Some might be overseas, some may not be at home at the time we visit, but we will make sure that the information is put under their doors," Dr Koh said.

Resident Siti Hasmah Nordin, 30, a housewife, said: "I was shocked when I heard about it and I want to know more because I'm worried for my (eight-year-old) daughter."

•Additional reporting by Cheryl Lin

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 17, 2016, with the headline 'TB screening station set up at AMK block'. Print Edition | Subscribe