SINGAPORE - Residents of a Housing Board block of flats in Bukit Merah turned up on Monday (June 28) to take mandatory Covid-19 tests that began at 9am.
This came after the Ministry of Health (MOH) said on Sunday night that four residents from three households in Block 103 Henderson Crescent had tested positive for the coronavirus.
At 9am, when The Straits Times visited the pavilion at Block 104B where testing was taking place, there were no queues. Two safe distancing ambassadors were on site.
Resident Tan Boon Huay, 71, was one of the first to get the PCR (polymerase chain reaction) swab test.
The assistant tailor said she felt uncomfortable during the swab, but the test would give her peace of mind.
Ms Tan, who is single, said: "We must accept it, for ourselves and for others. Even though I'm vaccinated and so are my neighbours, there's still a chance of getting the coronavirus."
Earlier on Sunday, she had collected a free antigen rapid test (ART) kit from the pavilion. The self-test kits were distributed to Redhill and Bukit Merah residents to help prevent further transmission of the coronavirus.
Another resident, Ms Adeline Tan, 60, was also swabbed on Monday, together with her husband.
The part-time real estate agent was wearing two masks - a surgical mask as well as a reusable one - as an added precaution.
The couple now buy groceries from a supermarket in the nearby Alexandra Road area after Covid-19 cases were linked to the Bukit Merah View Market and Hawker Centre.
Although the market reopened on Sunday after it was thoroughly disinfected, Ms Adeline Tan is still worried.
She said: "As long as residents are still moving around and the cluster is still open, there's still a chance of us getting Covid-19."
As at Sunday night, there are 12 cases linked to the Henderson Crescent cluster and 91 to the Bukit Merah View one.
To detect possible asymptomatic cases in the community, those who have interacted with residents of Block 103 Henderson Crescent between June 7 and June 26 are encouraged to take a Covid-19 test.
They can make an appointment at a regional screening centre between Monday and Tuesday (June 29) or go to the Block 104B pavilion on Tuesday.
Over in Lengkok Bahru, which is about a 10-minute walk away, a swabbing operation was also under way on Monday morning.
At 12.20pm, there was a queue of 12 people.
On Sunday, MOH said Covid-19 viral fragments were detected in wastewater samples from Blocks 55, 56 and 57.
Epidemiological investigations are ongoing to determine links and the source of transmission.
Monday's swabbing is mandatory for all residents, shop owners and staff.
At the void deck of Block 53 where the testing is done, an MP for Tanjong Pagar GRC, Mr Eric Chua, told reporters there are about 1,700 residents in the three blocks.
He added that shopkeepers can continue to operate their businesses after they have been swabbed.
Mr Chua, who is MP for the Queenstown ward, said: "We will closely monitor the situation over the next two days."
Mr Ricky Lo, 63, manager of Zi Yean Restaurant in Block 56, said business fell by 80 per cent in June compared with May. The Chinese eatery has been in operation since 1980.
This is the result of the spike in Covid-19 cases in Bukit Merah and the dine-in ban, which was lifted only on June 21, he added.
“Most of our lunchtime customers are from the offices in Alexandra and Redhill. They’re all working from home and they wouldn’t want to split up into pairs also," added Mr Lo.
Ms Lee Mei Mei, 65, who owns Sin Li Hua Hairstylists in Block 55, said she would call it a day by 3pm on Monday if no customers came. It is usually open until 5pm.
“We disinfect our brushes and combs after serving every customer. Most of our regulars call in advance before coming," she said.
Secondary 1 student Syed Fazley Syed Alwi, 13, who was among those swabbed on Monday, said he will be doing home-based learning to play it safe.
The Block 56 resident, who received his first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine on Sunday, added: "I have soccer practice on Tuesday but won't go back to school until I test negative. It's good they are testing everyone."
Members of the public who interacted with residents, shop owners or staff of the affected blocks can also be tested at the void deck on Wednesday (June 30) between 9am and 4pm.
Additional reporting by Jason Quah