SINGAPORE - The number of Covid-19 cases linked to the Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH) cluster has grown to 16 as at Saturday (May 1).
The cluster emerged following the diagnosis on Tuesday (April 27) of a nurse who works in a general ward.
Here's what we know so far about Singapore's first Covid-19 hospital cluster.
1. When were the cases detected?
She was deployed at Ward 9D, a general ward.
2. Who are among those affected?
As at May 1, 16 Covid-19 cases have been linked to the TTSH cluster. Those affected are 10 patients, two doctors, a nurse, a healthcare assistant trainee, a cleaner, and a spouse of a TTSH patient.
One of the patients is a 72-year-old woman who developed symptoms associated with Covid-19 while staying in a general ward at TTSH. Madam Ong Kim Choo's infection was detected on April 28. She was admitted to a C class ward on April 20 for rheumatoid arthritis.
Madam Ong, who has not been vaccinated, told The Straits Times that she is very concerned about her family. She said: " I am worried about my grandson. I told them not to visit me. Now, their family life has been affected."
3. How’s the condition of those affected?
An 88-year-old Singaporean woman, who was part of the cluster, died from complications due to the infection on Saturday (May 1).
The Ministry of Health (MOH) said the woman had been warded in Ward 9D from April 14, and was confirmed to have Covid-19 on April 28.
She had a history of cancer, hypertension, congestive cardiac failure, stroke and hyperlipidaemia.
4. What is the likelihood of more cases emerging?
Singapore expects to detect more Covid-19 cases linked to this cluster in the coming days, said Health Minister Gan Kim Yong on April 30. The authorities may take more stringent measures should widespread transmission be found, he added.
"These recent cases are another reminder that the virus is alive and circulating," Mr Gan said, urging Singaporeans to continue to be socially responsible and stick to the safe management measures, even if they have been vaccinated.
5. What are the measures taken so far?
All 1,100 inpatients and 4,500 staff working in the TTSH wards will be swabbed as part of a mass screening exercise.
The hospital has also locked down four affected wards to stem the spread of the virus. Staff and patient movement in all the main wards has been minimised to prevent cross-infection, and no visitors are allowed into the hospital except for critically ill patients.
6. What does a lockdown of TTSH wards entail?
"When a ward is locked down, this means that there is no in-or-out movement within the ward, with restricted movement for both patients and staff, and only for essential testing, such as a test in the radiology department, for instance," said TTSH chief executive Eugene Soh.
In addition, a dedicated group of staff takes care of the ward.
7. Are there other precautionary measures taken?
All public places visited by Covid-19 cases who are part of the TTSH cluster during their infectious period will be closed for two days for cleaning.
The list of places visited by the patients during their infectious period, from April 15 to April 27, include NTUC FairPrice outlets, eateries, Orchard Road stores and mosques.
8. What are the experts saying about the cluster?
The TTSH cluster is of concern, but there is no need to be overly worried, said several experts.
Professor Dale Fisher, a senior infectious disease consultant at the National University Hospital (NUH), said: "We know Covid is very unforgiving. Such a cluster could have occurred anywhere and we just have to make sure that if there is a case at a hospital, it will be picked up and not allowed to spread."