Coronavirus: 7 new cases in Singapore, possible new cluster involving church in Paya Lebar

The National Centre for Infectious Diseases at Tan Tock Seng Hospital. The total number of coronavirus cases in Singapore has grown to 40.
The National Centre for Infectious Diseases at Tan Tock Seng Hospital. The total number of coronavirus cases in Singapore has grown to 40.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - There are seven new coronavirus cases in Singapore, the Ministry of Health announced on Saturday (Feb 8).

Of these, five are linked to previously announced cases.

Among the new confirmed cases are a taxi driver and a private-hire car driver, it said.

There is also a possible new cluster comprising five cases, linked to The Life Church and Missions Singapore in Paya Lebar.

The total number of people infected here has grown to 40.

Two of the patients have been discharged, but four are now in critical condition and in the intensive care unit, said MOH in its latest update.

About the seven new cases

1. Case 34 is a 40-year-old female Singapore citizen with no recent travel history to China. She is currently warded in an isolation room at the National Centre for Infectious Diseases (NCID).

She reported onset of symptoms on Jan 27, and had visited two general practitioner (GP) clinics on Jan 27 and Feb 1. As she works at Yong Thai Hang in Lavender, she was identified as a close contact of Cases 19 and 20, and placed under home quarantine on Feb 4. She was admitted to NCID on Feb 6, and subsequent test results confirmed 2019-nCoV infection on Feb 7 afternoon.

Prior to hospital admission, she had gone to work at Yong Thai Hang, and lives in Sin Ming Road.

 
 
 
 

2. Case 35 is a 64-year-old male Singapore citizen with no recent travel history to China. He is currently warded in an isolation room at the Singapore General Hospital (SGH).

He reported onset of symptoms on Jan 30, and had visited Bukit Merah Polyclinic on Jan 31. He was admitted to SGH on Feb 6. Subsequent test results confirmed 2019-nCoV infection on Feb 7 afternoon.

Prior to hospital admission, he worked as a taxi driver and had largely stayed at his home in Henderson Crescent after onset of symptoms, except to visit Redhill Market and a hawker centre at Bukit Merah for meals.

3. Case 36 is a 38-year-old female Singapore permanent resident with no recent travel history to China but had been in Johor Bahru from Jan 25 to 28. She is currently warded in an isolation room at NCID.

She reported onset of symptoms on Jan 24, and had visited a GP clinic on Feb 1. She was isolated and admitted to KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital on Feb 4. Subsequent test results confirmed 2019-nCoV infection on Feb 7 afternoon.

Prior to hospital admission, she had attended the same business meeting as Cases 30 and 39 at Grand Hyatt Singapore from Jan 20 to 22, and visited a family member at Ng Teng Fong General Hospital (NTFGH). She lives in Bukit Batok Street 31.

4. Case 37 is a 53-year-old male Singapore citizen with no recent travel history to China. He is currently warded in an isolation room at NCID.

He reported onset of symptoms on Jan 30, and had visited two GP clinics on Feb 1 and Feb 3. He was admitted to NTFGH on Feb 6, and transferred to NCID on Feb 8. Subsequent test results confirmed 2019-nCoV infection on Feb 7 afternoon.

 
 
 

Prior to hospital admission, he worked as a private-hire car driver and lives in Jurong East Street 32.

5. Case 38 is a 52-year-old female Singapore citizen with no recent travel history to China. She is currently warded in an isolation room at NCID.

She reported onset of symptoms on Feb 3 and visited Choa Chu Kang Polyclinic on Feb 4. She was admitted to NCID on Feb 7. Subsequent test results confirmed 2019-nCoV infection on Feb 8 morning.

Prior to hospital admission, she had visited The Life Church and Missions Singapore, Marina Bay Sands, Chinatown and Plaza Singapura and had travelled by public transport. She lives in Choa Chu Kang Avenue 3.

6. Case 39 is a 51-year-old male Singapore citizen with no recent travel history to China, but who had travelled to Malaysia from Jan 23 to Feb 2. He is currently warded in an isolation room at NCID.

He reported onset of symptoms on Jan 29, and had visited two GP clinics on Feb 3 and Feb 5. He was admitted to NCID on Feb 6. Subsequent test results confirmed 2019-nCoV infection on Feb 8 morning.

Prior to hospital admission, he had attended the same private business meeting as Cases 30 and 36 at Grand Hyatt Singapore from Jan 20 to 22, and lives in Jurong West Central.

7. Case 40 is a 36-year-old male Singapore citizen with no recent travel history to China. He is currently warded in an isolation room at NCID.

He reported onset of symptoms on Jan 30, and had visited a GP clinic on the same day. As he works at Yong Thai Hang, he was identified as a close contact of Cases 19 and 20, and placed under home quarantine on Feb 4.

He was admitted to NCID on Feb 7. Subsequent test results confirmed 2019-nCoV infection on Feb 8 morning. Prior to hospital admission, he went to work at Yong Thai Hang and lives in Bedok North.

Outbreak alert raised to orange

Singapore moved its disease outbreak response up one level to "orange" on Friday, after cases surfaced here which could not be traced to the source of infection.

Under the Disease Outbreak Response System Condition (Dorscon), "orange" means the outbreak is deemed to have moderate to high public health impact, though the situation is still under control. It is one step below "red", which signifies an out-of-control pandemic.

Extra measures are in place to reduce mingling in schools, tighten access to hospitals and limit large events.

After news of the raised outbreak response became public on Friday, items such as rice, instant noodles and toilet paper began flying off the shelves.

 
 
 

Government leaders have asked shoppers to remain calm.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said on Saturday that there are ample supplies.

"We are not locking down the city or confining everybody to stay at home," he said.

Globally, the situation has escalated, with more than 34,000 people infected and more than 720 deaths. At least 320 patients are outside mainland China.

The Government has been ramping up its defences against the virus since January, with many of the measures in "orange" already in place before the enhanced alert was announced.

The Dorscon system was set up after the 2003 severe acute respiratory syndrome (Sars) outbreak. Code orange was imposed during the H1N1 influenza outbreak in 2009.

Currently, the Health Ministry does contact tracing to identify individuals who had close contact with the confirmed cases.

It is a labour-intensive task, with seven teams of 10 people working in two shifts from 8.30am till 10pm, seven days a week, calling people to check if they are close contacts of coronavirus patients.

But if the numbers keep growing, and the virus becomes widespread, it will at some point be futile to try to trace every contact.

 
 
 

If the authorities still hospitalise and isolate every suspect case, hospitals will be overwhelmed, said PM Lee on Saturday.

"At that point, provided that the fatality rate stays low like flu, we should shift our approach," he said.

This would include encouraging those with only mild symptoms to see their family doctor and rest at home instead of going to the hospital, and letting hospitals and healthcare workers focus on the most vulnerable patients - the elderly, young children, and those with medical complications.

Currently, the mortality rate of the virus in China is 2 per cent, but outside Hubei province, the mortality rate is 0.2 per cent.