10 new Covid-19 cases, CNY dinner at Safra Jurong biggest cluster; short-term visitors must now pay for treatment

Six of the new cases are linked to a Feb 15 private dinner function at Safra Jurong. ST PHOTO: JASON QUAH

SINGAPORE - Tourists and other short-term-visit pass holders in Singapore have had to pay for Covid-19 treatment since March 7, the Ministry of Health (MOH) said on Monday (March 9).

It cited the rising numbers of infections globally and an expected rise in confirmed cases, saying Singapore will "need to prioritise resources at our public hospitals".

Singapore will still waive testing fees for these short-term visit pass holders, but they will have to pay for treatment if they are warded. The Government will continue to pay for Singapore residents and long-term pass holders - such as work, student's and dependant's passes - who are admitted to public hospitals for treatment, an MOH spokesman said.

The ministry also confirmed 10 new patients on Monday, of whom six are linked to the Joy Garden private dinner function at Safra Jurong on Feb 15. One is linked to the Life Church and Missions Singapore, while the remaining three are imported.

Another three patients have been discharged.

The Safra Jurong cluster is now the largest with 36 cases.

Case 160, a five-year-old Singaporean boy, is the youngest case linked to the dinner there. He is a family member of Case 145 and is warded at KK Women's and Children's Hospital.

Cases 155 to 159, aged between 47 and 59, are also linked to the Safra cluster.

One of the imported cases announced yesterday, Case 152, is a 65-year-old male Indonesian national. He reported the onset of symptoms while in Indonesia on Feb 28, and sought treatment at a hospital in Jakarta on March 2.

He arrived in Singapore on March 7 and turned up at Singapore General Hospital (SGH). He was confirmed to have the Covid-19 infection on Sunday.

Case 153 is likely to be an imported case. The 65-year-old female Singaporean was in Indonesia from Feb 25 to Feb 28, and visited her sister who had pneumonia while there.

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She reported the onset of symptoms on March 3 and sought treatment at Choa Chu Kang Polyclinic that day and on March 7. She turned up at SGH on March 7 and was confirmed to have the infection on Sunday.

Another imported case, Case 154, is a 52-year-old British man who arrived in Singapore on March 6 and was confirmed to have the infection on Monday. He is currently warded at the National Centre for Infectious Diseases (NCID).

The MOH spokesman declined to identify the flight he was on.

Case 151, linked to The Life Church and Missions, was at a Jan 25 Chinese New Year gathering in Mei Hwan Drive. The 51-year-old Singaporean man reported the onset of symptoms on Feb 4, and sought treatment at a general practitioner clinic on Feb 5 and 13. He also sought treatment at Yishun Polyclinic on Feb 8 and 13. While he was ill, he mostly stayed at home in Yishun Ring Road.

He was referred to the NCID to undergo a serology test on Feb 22 after he was confirmed to have attended the gathering, which has been linked to other cases.

The results from the serological test, which looks for past infections by detecting antibodies in a person's blood, on Sunday confirmed that he had an earlier Covid-19 infection.

MOH also provided updates on the cases confirmed on Sunday.

Among them was Case 147, Singapore's first case to be picked up at the checkpoints using a swab test. The 64-year-old Indonesian man reported the onset of symptoms on March 3 and arrived here four days later.

He had a fever when he arrived at Seletar Airport and had a swab test at the checkpoint. He was taken to NCID by ambulance on Saturday night and confirmed to have the infection on Sunday morning.

Prior to hospitalisation, he mostly stayed at his rental apartment in the Oxley Road area. He will have to pay for medical treatment here, MOH said.

In a Facebook post, Second Minister for Home Affairs Josephine Teo said a test kit developed by Home Team agency HTX has been used to analyse Covid-19 swab test samples at land, air and sea checkpoints since March 5. It was used to detect the virus for Case 147.

Singapore has a total of 160 coronavirus cases, of whom 93 have been discharged. Ten remain in critical condition, while the rest are stable or improving.

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