Half of the cases at largest Covid-19 cluster in Bukit Merah View not vaccinated

More than half the 82 infections at the Bukit Merah View cluster were not vaccinated, said Singapore's director of medical services Kenneth Mak on June 24, 2021.
More than half the 82 infections at the Bukit Merah View cluster were not vaccinated, said Singapore's director of medical services Kenneth Mak on June 24, 2021. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - More than half, or 51.1 per cent, of the Covid-19 cases detected in the 115 Bukit Merah View Market and Hawker Centre - now Singapore's largest open cluster with 82 infections - were not vaccinated.

At least 219,000 tests have been conducted in various nearby areas over the past three weeks as part of aggressive community surveillance measures.

And among community clusters in Singapore, the common modes of transmission are workplace and office settings, food and beverage outlets - including among delivery riders from one - and households and close contacts in social settings.

Singapore's director of medical services, Associate Professor Kenneth Mak, gave these updates during a multi-ministry task force press conference on Thursday (June 24).

He revealed that the index case in the 115 Bukit Merah View cluster is a sundry store owner, before the virus spread to other stalls, stall owners, tenants, social contacts and patrons of the market and food centre.

In this cluster, 36.7 per cent of them are fully vaccinated. More than half - 46 - of the total cases are not household-related; 16 were detected from surveillance or community testing operations; and 27 isolated or quarantined before detection, said Prof Mak.

The market and food centre will remain closed until Saturday.

He also noted the presence of other clusters in the vicinity, such as in Tiong Bahru, Redhill and the Enabling Village, a community and social enterprise hub nearby.

The Ministry of Health is tracking and studying these clusters to confirm if there are links to the 115 Bukit Merah View cluster.

There were 39 community clusters as at Wednesday night.

Three of the 10 large clusters will close by the end of June, said Prof Mak, if there are no more cases detected within them. These include the clusters at 506 Hougang Avenue 8 as well as Chevy's Bar and Bistro.

He noted that while overall community numbers have increased in the past week compared with the week before, the proportion of unlinked cases has dropped from 25 per cent to 21 per cent over the same stretch.


Residents queueing for their swab tests at Block 89 Redhill Close after viral Covid-19 fragments were detected in wastewater on June 22, 2021. ST PHOTO: JASON QUAH

Of the linked cases, 46 per cent were already in quarantine and 33 per cent were detected through surveillance. The share of infections picked up on entry into quarantine has also decreased from 18.8 per cent on June 16 to 5.5 per cent on June 22.

"This suggests that we are getting more cases more quickly, as a result of the aggressive testing that we've been doing," said Prof Mak.

He added that all five cases in intensive care as reported on Wednesday were unvaccinated.

"It reinforces our concern that those who are not vaccinated, if infected, may get a more severe case of the disease, may require oxygen supplementation; or even ICU care," he said.

He repeated the call for those who have yet to be vaccinated to register for their jabs.

"Our seniors, in particular, will be hard hit if the clusters increase, or if more clusters like that we see in Bukit Merah break through in our community," said Prof Mak.

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