Blood bank staff member diagnosed with TB but donors not at risk: MOH

Facade of the Bloodbank@HSA.
Facade of the Bloodbank@HSA.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - A staff member at the Health Sciences Authority (HSA) blood bank at Outram Park has been diagnosed with active tuberculosis, prompting other staff to be screened for the infection.

The Health Ministry's (MOH) tuberculosis control unit informed HSA of the diagnosis, which was made in mid-April, and has helped to facilitate screening of staff who were identified as the patient's close contacts, said a HSA spokesman on Friday (June 30).

However, no cases of active tuberculosis have been found, said an MOH spokesman.

The ministry also said that the HSA staff member started on treatment immediately after being diagnosed with the disease, and went on medical leave for a fortnight.

Blood donors who have visited the Health Sciences Authority's (HSA) blood bank in Outram Park have nothing to be worried about, added the authorities.

"Blood donors or recipients are not at risk as they did not have prolonged contact with the individual," said the ministry spokesman.

The incident was first reported in Lianhe Wanbao on Thursday.

Tuberculosis is typically spread through close and prolonged contact with an infectious individual. It takes days to weeks - rather than minutes or hours - to infect someone else, and cannot be spread through contact with surfaces that have been touched by an infected person.

When the Straits Times spoke to blood donors at the building on Friday (June 30), most of them were unconcerned.

"I believe HSA would have taken the necessary precautions since then," said 40-year-old civil servant Eio Kok Hui. "Besides, today I'm donating platelets to a bone marrow patient, and if I didn't come it wouldn't be very fair to them."

Added prison officer Lim Chee Keong, 46: "I'm here frequently and I know they take many precautions. If they discovered it early and screened the person's colleagues with no issues, I'm not worried."