Life goes on for residents at Tampines block with 2 Covid-19 family clusters, but some take extra precautions

Some residents said they took the tests as they were offered for free and saw no harm in taking them. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Many residents of the Tampines Housing Board block where two family clusters were found to have Covid-19 patients close to two weeks ago say that life is going on as usual around the estate.

Still, some have been spooked by the disease and have taken extra precautions, such as keeping their windows shut.

Health officials placed 58 households at Block 111 Tampines Street 11 under phone surveillance on July 2 after nine cases of Covid-19 infections were confirmed there.

All the households live in the same section of the block and share a common lift lobby and stairwell with the nine cases. Two new infections confirmed on Friday (July 10) brought the total number of cases linked to the block to 11.

The Ministry of Health (MOH) said these cases had been earlier quarantined and there is no evidence of the disease spreading beyond the two affected households.

When The Straits Times visited the block on Saturday, many residents said that they were not worried about being infected as they have been taking precautions such as monitoring their health and donning masks when heading out.

But some residents of the affected part of the block were concerned that their neighbours might be among the households linked to Covid-19 patients.

Housewife Etta Chuah, 43, said in Mandarin that she gets worried whenever she sees neighbours doing laundry in the common corridor without any masks on. "As a precaution, I keep all my windows (facing the common corridor) shut," Madam Chuah added.

She said that while her husband and their 17-year-old twin daughters go out to work and school as usual, they would take precautions such as keeping a safe distance from others while outside.

"And one thing we would always do is to wash our hands right after we step into the house."

Madam Chuah said that she did not want to be tested at first as she felt well and didn't see the need to do so.

"I've also heard stories of how painful or uncomfortable the swabbing process could be," she added. Madam Chuah said she changed her mind and had a swab test as she had to attend the wake of one of her close friends.

"But now that I've done it, it's actually quite all right - not as horrible as people make it out to be. It was to give myself, as well as the people holding the wake, peace of mind."

MOH had offered swab tests to 160 people who were residents and visitors of the 58 households as a precautionary measure. It said that as of Friday, 123 people had been tested, with all their results coming back negative for Covid-19. Epidemiological investigations are still under way.

Some residents said they took the tests as they were offered for free and saw no harm in taking them.

But a few said that they did not see the need to take the tests as they had no interactions with the affected households and had no symptoms.

For others, like a resident who wanted to be identified only as Ms Wong, she was not offered a swab test as she lives in a different section of the block, but would have taken it if given the chance - for "peace of mind".

Ms Wong, 42, a housewife, added that her daughter has been advised by her tuition centre to not attend classes but to take online lessons instead.

"Some people don't understand that it's not the whole block that has been affected and only a certain section has the cases," she said.

Re-elected MP for Tampines GRC Desmond Choo said that residents he has spoken to have been relieved to learn that all those tested have had negative results.

He added that heightened hygiene and sanitation measures in the blocks - including a thorough cleaning of the nearby Tampines Round Market on July 6 - have not disrupted work or study routines for residents.

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