SINGAPORE - Singapore has not seen a second wave of infections yet even though the number of community cases has gone up, said Health Minister Gan Kim Yong.
But the risk is there, he said, citing the nine people living in Block 111 Tampines Street 11 who have Covid-19 and his concern that this cluster could be a major outbreak for Singapore.
This is why the task force decided to test everyone in the section of the building. A total of 118 people who live in or visited the cluster at the block have been tested for Covid-19 since the end of June and all have tested negative.
"We must continue to remain vigilant, because if we let our guard down, the virus will creep in, the infections will grow and we will have a bigger problem on our hands," said Mr Gan, who shared the update at a virtual press conference on Tuesday (July 7).
"Once we see a possible cluster forming, we will move in quickly to impose precautionary measures to break the chain of transmission," he added.
The nine Covid-19 patients in Block 111 come from two households on different floors, with no interaction between them, but share the same lifts and stairwell.
The multi-ministry task force tackling Covid-19 said it has not been able to establish conclusively what is the connection between the two households, and that it could be a coincidence that the two households have cases in close proximity within the same block.
National Development Minister Lawrence Wong, who co-chairs the task force, said Singapore cannot rule out having to impose additional restrictions or put in another circuit breaker down the road.
"No one can rule out that possibility. Countries that exited from their lockdowns have had to reimpose lockdowns. But we'll try very hard not to have to go down that path," he said.
An expanded toolkit of control measures is key to resisting another lockdown. The toolkit includes expanded testing capacity and the ability to take more targeted, swifter actions, he added.
The Health Ministry detected the first case living in the block on June 23.
A 66-year-old Singaporean man had worked at The Leo Dormitory and was picked up during the ministry's proactive screening of dormitories. Six of his household members subsequently tested positive for Covid-19, forming a cluster.
On June 27, another two Covid-19 cases, one of whom is a 15-year-old Singaporean female, emerged in a different household in the same block, but on a different floor. They reported that they had not interacted with the cluster.
Residents of all 58 households living in the same section of the block that share a common lift lobby and stairwell were contacted to see if they were well.
Everyone in the 58 units was then put on active phone surveillance. In addition, the affected common areas in the block were disinfected and cleaning of the area stepped up.