Vaccinated worker infected with Covid-19: Close contacts, workers in same dorm test negative

The close contacts of the patient will be tested again before being discharged from quarantine.
The close contacts of the patient will be tested again before being discharged from quarantine.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - All 156 close contacts of a port worker who tested positive for Covid-19 after he was vaccinated have tested negative while in quarantine.

They will be tested again before being discharged from quarantine.

More than 1,500 workers living in the infected worker's dormitory in Brani Terminal Avenue have also been cleared of the virus, Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung said on Wednesday (April 14) when he provided an update on the case three days after it was reported.

The 23-year-old Indian work permit holder received his first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine on Jan 25 and the second one on Feb 17. He tested positive on April 7, was immediately isolated and taken to the National Centre for Infectious Diseases.

The Ministry of Health has said that the vaccine "likely accounts" for his lack of symptoms prior to the test on April 7.

Mr Ong on Wednesday described the case as a reminder that it is possible for vaccinated individuals to be infected.

But he emphasised that vaccines are still very effective in protecting people from the more severe forms of the disease and can "significantly reduce" the likelihood of the infected person passing on the virus to others.

"The case is just one data point, but it reinforced our understanding of the virus and vaccinations," he said.

"We continue to strongly encourage everyone to take the vaccine when it is your turn, to protect yourself and others."

The patient is a lashing specialist employed by Seafront Support Company, which provides supply and lashing and unlashing services at Brani Terminal.

His job is to go onboard ships to secure and unsecure containers before port cranes move them. Mr Ong noted that he and other lashing specialists like him are not allowed to interact with the ship crew.

His case continues to be studied by the health authorities.

The Straits Times spoke to doctors who said the port worker's case was not an incidence of the vaccine failing. Those who are vaccinated would have developed immune memory against the Sars-CoV-2 virus such that upon natural infection, the rapid immune response would prevent these individuals from becoming ill.

The instances of an asymptomatically infected patient passing on the disease is also relatively uncommon as they will not sneeze or cough to expel the virus.

As at Wednesday noon, Singapore has recorded 60,719 Covid-19 cases. There were 27 new patients on Wednesday, comprising one community and 26 imported cases.