Residents and shop staff of 8 Hougang HDB blocks to go for Covid-19 tests

This comes after a new cluster was linked to Block 506 Hougang Avenue 8.
This comes after a new cluster was linked to Block 506 Hougang Avenue 8.ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

SINGAPORE - Residents, visitors and staff at eight Housing Board blocks in Hougang will undergo Covid-19 swab tests after new cases of infection were reported in neighbouring blocks.

The tests will be mandatory for residents and visitors of Block 506 Hougang Avenue 8, as well as shop staff in neighbouring blocks, the Ministry of Health (MOH) said on Thursday (June 3).

The neighbouring blocks are Block 511 Hougang Avenue 10; Blocks 681, 683 and 684 Hougang Avenue 8; Block 682 Hougang Avenue 4; and Blocks 685 and 698 Hougang Street 61.

This comes after a new cluster was linked to Block 506 Hougang Avenue 8. A 58-year-old Singaporean woman, who is a housewife and resides there, was among the 35 new cases in the community reported on Thursday. A total of 13 cases have been linked to the cluster.

Last month, residents in Block 506 Hougang Avenue 8 underwent testing after several people living in the 12-storey block tested positive for Covid-19.

Several amenities, such as supermarket outlets, fast-food restaurants, food stalls and retail shops, are located in the neighbouring blocks, four of which are part of the Hougang Village neighbourhood centre.

The swab tests will be conducted at Block 507 Hougang Avenue 8 on Friday and Saturday, between 9am and 4pm.

MOH said that the mandatory testing is to detect cases who were still incubating the virus in the first round of testing and to prevent spread in the community.

In the event that a positive case is detected, the ministry will isolate the case, identify all close contacts, test and quarantine them to protect the community from further transmission, it said.

The ministry will also be conducting voluntary testing for those who were at neighbouring blocks to prevent further spread and detect asymptomatic cases. Residents and visitors who were at the blocks between May 19 and June 3 are encouraged to undergo testing.

Leaflets and text notifications will be sent to inform residents to provide them with more information.

Mr Darryl David, MP for Ang Mo Kio GRC, which six of the neighbouring blocks are under, said that he would be going around to the shops in Hougang Village on Friday to encourage tenants and shop staff to get tested for Covid-19. Grassroots leaders and the chairman of the Hougang Village Merchants' Association will also be doing so, and keep to safe distancing measures, he added.

Aljunied GRC MP Gerald Giam, who is vice-chairman of the Aljunied-Hougang Town Council, told The Straits Times: "I understand that it might be a bit of a hassle, especially for Block 506 residents, who just got swabbed less than two weeks ago. However, I'm sure residents understand that this is to ensure their health and that of the community."  He added that residents can contact him if they have any concerns.

The latest round of swab tests comes after mandatory testing for residents living in Blocks 501 and 507 Hougang Avenue 8 began on Tuesday, after Covid-19 viral fragments were detected in wastewater samples collected from the blocks.

MOH said the tests have been completed, and that as at Thursday, 680 individuals have tested negative, while one person tested positive.

Investigations are ongoing to determine links and the transmission source.