Most students with Covid-19 linked to private tutor, no evidence of school-based transmission

Most students who were reported to have tested positive recently are linked to a tutor in a private tuition school. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - There is no evidence of school-based Covid-19 transmission so far, even as a few new infections among students will be reported, said Education Minister Lawrence Wong.

The infections reported so far all took place outside of school but even so, safe management measures in schools have been tightened, said Mr Wong, who is co-chair of the Covid-19 multi-ministry task force.

"But we will continue to monitor this very closely and see if additional measures are necessary," he said at a press briefing on Friday (May 14).

Principals and teachers have been reminded to be alert and vigilant, to make sure that students who are in schools can continue learning safely, he added.

Most students who were reported to have tested positive recently are linked to a tutor in a private tuition school, said the Ministry of Health's (MOH) director of medical services Kenneth Mak.

Associate Professor Mak said MOH will report later on Friday that a few students in schools have tested positive.

He said at the press conference: "At this point in time, epidemiological investigations are still ongoing, but most of these students are in fact linked to one of our cases reported yesterday, case 63,131."

He added that the students were picked up as a result of epidemiological investigations and testing while they were under quarantine.

Earlier on Friday, it was reported that more schools will move to full home-based learning after pupils tested positive for Covid-19.

Two pupils each from Kong Hwa School and St Stephen's School have been confirmed to have Covid-19 infection, according to notices seen by The Straits Times.

This was after it was announced on Thursday that a Yio Chu Kang Primary pupil was among 24 new community cases.

These schools bring the total number of schools affected by the recent surge in Covid-19 community cases in the past two weeks to at least five.

MOH on Thursday night said the tutor, 50, is a Singaporean woman who works at an agency called Learning Point. She had diarrhoea and a headache on May 3, a fever on May 6 and a cough on May 11.

She then sought medical treatment at a neighbourhood clinic on May 11 and was tested for Covid-19. Her test result came back positive the next day and her serology test result is pending, MOH said.

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Asked whether the tutor was wearing a face shield instead of a mask, Prof Mak said the policy on mask wearing will be tightened.

The use of masks - instead of face shields that was previously allowed in class settings - would be strongly encouraged, he said.

"The masks that we recommend would be three-ply masks that can be either of the reusable version or surgical masks, and these masks should not have filters or vents. This would be the strengthened mask regime which we would be encouraging the public to adopt," he said.

Mr Wong added that all schools will adopt such a policy, "which is that we will no longer use face shields as a substitute for mask wearing", although the vast majority of teachers have already been using masks, he said.

"Going forward, we will tighten and require all teachers to wear surgical masks when they are teaching," Mr Wong added. Additional measures to keep schools safe could be taken depending on the circumstances, he said.

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