SINGAPORE - Eighteen patients have been discharged from the D'Resort community isolation facility after they were deemed to be non-infectious to others despite still testing positive for Covid-19.
These are the first reported cases of patients here being discharged without first testing negative for the virus twice on consecutive days.
The patients were considered clinically well but had "persistently" tested positive for Covid-19, and had stayed at the NTUC resort in Pasir Ris between 38 and 51 days.
"After careful consideration, the Ministry of Health (MOH) decided that these individuals can be cleared for discharge," the ministry said on Saturday (May 16) in response to questions from The Straits Times.
But the 18 need to quarantine themselves at home for another seven days as an added precaution, MOH said .
The discharge of Covid-19 positive patients was first reported by CNA on Saturday.
The ministry said a medical review committee had carefully considered each case individually prior to their discharge.
The committee found that although the patients were shedding dead viral components - which were detectable through polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests - the components were no longer transmissible and infective to others.
PCR tests detect genetic sequences specific to Covid-19 and are widely used in Singapore and across the world.
Infectious diseases experts have told MOH that patients, even if they continue to test PCR positive, are unlikely to be infectious beyond 14 days from the onset of illness, as the virus could no longer be cultured from biological samples taken from them.
However, the ministry said it will continue to adopt a "cautious approach" and continue to consult with local and international medical experts.
"We will review the status of Covid-19 patients with prolonged stays at our community care facilities and consider if they need to remain in isolation, on a case-to-case basis," MOH said.
The authorities are looking to double bed spaces at community care facilities to 20,000 by the end of June.
These facilities - which currently consist of locales like D'Resort, Halls 1-6 at the Singapore Expo, and Changi Exhibition Centre - are meant for those with mild symptoms and lower risk factors.