SINGAPORE - Four more cases of the coronavirus infection were confirmed by the Ministry of Health (MOH) on Wednesday (Feb 5), including the youngest patient confirmed so far, a six-month-old baby who is the child of an infected couple.
Of the new cases, three are linked to the cluster of local transmissions announced on Tuesday, and one is an imported case involving a Chinese tourist from China's Wuhan city.
On Tuesday, MOH announced six confirmed cases of the coronavirus, with four women here infected who had not travelled to Wuhan, the epicentre of the virus outbreak.
These four cases are linked to a group of 20 tourists from Guangxi, China, that visited health products shop Yong Thai Hang in Cavan Road in Lavender. With the cases announced on Wednesday, the number of cases linked to the tour group is now seven.
MOH said the Chinese health authorities have confirmed that two travellers from the tour group have the coronavirus infection.
It reiterated that there is no evidence of widespread community transmission in Singapore for now.
Wednesday's announcement means that the total number of confirmed cases in Singapore is 28.
All four new cases are in stable condition, while 22 cases confirmed earlier are stable or improving, and one case has been discharged, said MOH.
The remaining case needs extra oxygen support, but is not in the intensive care unit.
Outside China, Singapore has the second highest number of confirmed cases of the coronavirus. Japan has the most with 33 cases so far.
Details on new cases
The four new cases announced here on Wednesday include a father and son - a Singaporean man and his baby boy. His wife and their maid were earlier confirmed to be infected. The third new case is the Singaporean husband of an infected tour guide, while the fourth is a tourist from China.
The father and son, as well as the husband of the tour guide, are among the seven confirmed cases linked to a tour group that visited the Yong Thai Hang shop.
First case: The baby boy, who is Singaporean and six months old, is the son of a woman who works at Yong Thai Hang, which caters to Chinese tour groups.
He is warded in an isolation room at KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital.
MOH said the baby was not in any infant care facility before he was hospitalised - he was cared for at home.
His 28-year-old mother is a Singapore permanent resident who did not recently travel to China. On Tuesday, MOH confirmed that she and their foreign domestic helper, a 44-year-old Indonesian woman, were infected with the coronavirus.
This was after Yong Thai Hang was visited by a tour group from Guangxi on Jan 23. The Singaporean tour guide of the group was later confirmed to be infected.
Second case: The baby's father was also one of the confirmed cases announced on Wednesday with no recent travel history to China.
The 45-year-old Singaporean man is warded in an isolation room at the National Centre for Infectious Diseases (NCID).
Third case: Another case confirmed on Wednesday linked to the Chinese tour group that visited the shop is the husband of the group's infected tour guide.
The 40-year-old Singaporean man also had not travelled to China recently, and is currently warded in an isolation room at NCID.
He developed a fever on Jan 24 and visited Hougang Polyclinic with his wife, a 32-year-old Singaporean woman, on Jan 30. He went to NCID on Monday.
Before the man was admitted to hospital, he was at his home in Buangkok Green and worked at Diamond Industries Jewellery Company at Harbour Drive which was visited by the same tour group from Guangxi.
The man also visited Pasir Panjang Hawker Centre and used public transport.
MOH said that the risk of infection from transient contact, such as on public transport or in public places, is assessed to be low.
Fourth case: The last confirmed case announced on Wednesday is a 42-year-old Chinese national who arrived in Singapore from Wuhan on Jan 21.
She is the daughter of one of the earlier confirmed cases, a 73-year-old woman who is also a Chinese national.
As the 42-year-old showed symptoms, she was taken by ambulance to NCID on the same day as her mother, immediately isolated, and is now warded in an isolation room at the centre.
Tour group from Guangxi
Regarding the tour group from Guangxi that visited the Yong Thai Hang shop, MOH said that the group was in Singapore from Jan 22 to 23, and also transited here for three hours on Jan 27 before leaving the country.
The group also visited five other places here: Diamond Industries Jewellery Company in Harbour Drive; Meeting You Restaurant in Hamilton Road; Royal Dragon Restaurant in Havelock Road; T Galleria by DFS in Scotts Road; and D’Resort @ Downtown East in Pasir Ris.
Almost 14 days have passed since the tourists visited these places, and MOH has communicated with 142 contacts. All of these contacts are well except for one who has been isolated as a suspected case. Test results for this person are pending.
The ministry has also done contact tracing for the crew and passengers of the flight that left Singapore with the Chinese tour group on Jan 27. Five of them are still in Singapore and have been quarantined.
The coronavirus, known as 2019-nCov, first emerged in Wuhan in December last year and has so far proven to be more infectious than 2003's severe acute respiratory syndrome (Sars).
As of Wednesday, the outbreak has sickened more than 24,000 people and killed more than 490, with Hong Kong reporting its first death from the coronavirus on Tuesday, the second fatality outside mainland China.
The deceased was a 39-year-old man with an underlying illness. He had taken the high-speed train from Hong Kong to Wuhan city in Hubei province on Jan 21, and from Changsha in Hunan province to Hong Kong on Jan 23.
Most of the deaths from the virus occurred in central Hubei province.
Overseas cases linked to Grand Hyatt Singapore
On Wednesday, three business travellers – a Malaysian and two South Koreans – linked to a conference at the Grand Hyatt Singapore they attended last month, were reported to have tested positive for the coronavirus.
The two South Korean men had come into contact with the Malaysian, who was infected. Details on how, where and when the Malaysian man became infected were not revealed by MOH.
The ministry said that this private business meeting at the hotel from Jan 20 to 22 involved 109 people from the same company.
Of the 15 Singapore residents at this event, 11 are well. Four have reported symptoms and were referred to NCID for assessment.
The event’s remaining 94 overseas participants have since left Singapore and MOH has informed the relevant health authorities abroad.
In the wake of the outbreak, a growing number of countries, including Italy, the United States, Australia, Singapore, Japan and Russia, have put in place travel restrictions. Germany, France and the US have evacuated citizens from China.
Several major airlines have also halted flights to and from China, deepening concerns of a widespread economic slowdown.
In Singapore, measures to combat the outbreak include mask distribution at residents' committee centres and community centres islandwide, which began last Saturday.
The Government announced on Jan 30 that all 1.3 million households in Singapore would be given a pack of four masks each amid reports of shops running out of stock.
On Tuesday, it also said that large gatherings and communal activities, such as assemblies and excursions, will be suspended at schools, pre-schools and eldercare facilities here from Wednesday, after the first local transmissions of the coronavirus were reported.
MOH said on Wednesday that 295 suspected cases have tested negative for the virus so far. Test results for 62 more cases are pending.
The ministry has identified 379 close contacts of the confirmed cases. Of these, 304 are still in Singapore, with 299 contacted and being quarantined or isolated. Efforts are being made to contact the remaining five close contacts.
MOH continues to advise Singaporeans to defer all travel to Hubei province and all non-essential travel to mainland China.
Members of the public should also observe good personal hygiene such as frequently washing their hands with soap.
They should also wear a mask if they have respiratory symptoms such as a cough or shortness of breath, and seek medical attention promptly if they are feeling unwell.