73-year-old S'porean man dies of Covid-19; new cluster of 4 residents from Orange Valley Nursing Home in Simei

Four of the new community cases were at the Orange Valley Nursing Home at 6 Simei Street 3. PHOTO: ORANGE VALLEY HEALTHCARE

SINGAPORE - There was an uptick in new Covid-19 cases among Singaporeans and permanent residents confirmed on Thursday (may 21), after seven cases were picked up during the Ministry of Health (MOH)'s active surveillance and screening of nursing home residents and pre-school staff.

Four of the new community cases are residents at the Orange Valley Nursing Home at 6 Simei Street 3. They are aged between 72 and 97.

The Agency for Integrated Care (AIC) said that all four residents were tested as part of MOH's ongoing surveillance testing of all nursing home residents.

As of Thursday, over 10,200 residents have been tested. Some 250 test results are still pending but so far, the four have been the only ones who have tested positive.

It added that all Orange Valley staff were tested in early May and all had tested negative. Staff members who come into contact with residents have all been staying at designated hotels since May 8 to minimise risk of picking up an infection.

After the four cases were detected, the close contacts of the four and the staff of Orange Valley were tested again. The staff tested negative again.

"Orange Valley has complied with enhanced precautionary measures in line with prevailing MOH advisories, such as disallowing visitors to the nursing home, strictly adhering to split-zone requirements and ensuring safe distancing. With the confirmed cases, Orange Valley has also thoroughly cleaned and disinfected the ward and affected areas of the nursing home, and will enhance the usage of personal protective equipment among staff," the AIC said.

Orange Valley meanwhile said it has been proactively administering Covid-19 test swabs on all residents and staff since April 30. It also said it is in touch with the families of the four residents who tested positive and is offering support.

The other community cases of Covid-19 infections picked up during MOH's active surveillance are three pre-school staff.

The Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA) said on Thursday that it is expecting some positive cases to be identified as it tests all workers ahead of a planned reopening of pre-schools from June 2.

The agency has directed that a two-week leave of absence be issued to a small group of children and staff recently in contact with the confirmed cases in the pre-schools, which will also be closed for two days for thorough cleaning and disinfection. Close contacts of the patients will be quarantined by MOH.

About 10,400 pre-school staff have already tested negative since the testing began on May 15. Testing is expected to be completed by the end of the month.

There were also four other new cases in a family cluster linked to a dormitory. The four cases are household contacts of an earlier announced case, the Bishan MRT staff, and have been linked to the Cochrane Lodge II cluster, where one of the family members went to work.

The remaining community cases include a Singaporean working at the Ng Teng Fong General Hospital food court, a Singaporean who went to work at Jurong Penjuru Dormitory and work permit holder who is contact of a previous case. Altogether, cases in the community made up 14 of the 448 total new cases.

There was also another death. A 73-year-old male Singapore citizen died due to Covid-19 complications on Thursday. He was confirmed to have the virus on April 17 and had a history of hypertension, hyperlipidaemia and hypothyroidism. The National Centre for Infectious Diseases has contacted the family and is extending assistance.

The remaining cases in the community comprise 434 work permit holders living in dormitories.

Thursday's new cases bring the total number of people in Singapore diagnosed with the coronavirus to 29,812.

Despite the increase in community cases, the number of coronavirus patients discharged has exceeded new patients in the past nine days.

A total of 910 Covid-19 patients were discharged from hospitals and community facilities on Thursday bringing the total discharged to 12,108.

MOH also announced the closure of Natureland East Coast, Wing Fong Court and 112 Neythal Road clusters as they have not had more cases linked to them for 28 days, or two incubation periods.

The Orange Valley Nursing Home was the only new cluster announced on Thursday.

In all, 901 Covid-19 patients are still in hospital, with 10 in critical condition in the intensive care unit.

Twenty-three patients have died from Covid-19 complications and nine who tested positive have died from other causes.

Globally, the outbreak, which began in December last year, has infected more than 5.1 million people. Over 333,000 have died.

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