Pre-schoolers screened for TB at Bukit Batok centre

Little Greenhouse in Bukit Batok has started screening children and staff for latent TB. PHOTO: TIFFANY GOH FOR THE STRAITS TIMES
A cleaner mopping the floor at Little Greenhouse after a teacher there was diagnosed with latent TB. PHOTO: TIFFANY GOH FOR THE STRAITS TIMES
Staff and students at Little Greenhouse are getting screened for latent tuberculosis after a teacher there was diagnosed with the disease. PHOTO: TIFFANY GOH FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

SINGAPORE - A pre-school in Bukit Batok has started screening children and staff for latent tuberculosis (TB) on Wednesday (Aug 24), after a teacher was diagnosed with the disease.

Little Greenhouse's deputy chief operations officer Ruth Kua told The Straits Times that the female teacher had reported sick last Thursday (Aug 18), though she did not show any symptoms of coughing or fever before that.

The Ministry of Health (MOH) confirmed the TB diagnosis with the school last Friday (Aug 19) afternoon.

"Our children's health is always our priority. Without delay, we fixed an appointment with an MOH officer to assess the school environment and on Saturday morning (Aug 20), we fumigated and sanitised the whole centre," Ms Kua said. The actions taken covered fans, air conditioners, furniture and toys in the centre.

Over the weekend, teachers also called parents to inform them about the situation and the steps being taken.

  • Other TB cases

  • There have been several cases of tuberculosis of late.

    A female resident of the Peacehaven Bedok Day Centre was diagnosed with active tuberculosis (TB) in June, but is undergoing treatment and is no longer infectious. A total of 36 residents and centre staff were screened, and a few were found to have latent TB.

    Those with latent TB are not infectious.

    There are at least five confirmed cases of TB among SMRT staff working around Tanah Merah since last December, of which three are active TB cases.

    As of the week of Aug 8, 29 others have been screened.

    SMRT has since ordered screening of all staff working around Tanah Merah, where the cases were found.

    In Ang Mo Kio, six residents of a housing block were diagnosed with the same drug- resistant strain of the disease between February 2012 and May this year.

The centre, located at Bukit Batok Street 31, has 104 pre-school children aged between two months and six.

An assessment by MOH was carried out on Monday (Aug 22) and consent forms for the screening were given out to parents the next day.

On Wednesday morning, the MOH's TB Control Unit conducted blood tests on the first group of 80 children, who are younger and more vulnerable. The remaining children will go undergo the tests on Friday (Aug 26). Twenty staff members will also be screened.

Said Ms Kua: "This morning, the parents came by to drop off their children as usual. Not many of them were concerned and instead, they were appreciative that we had updated them immediately."

She reported "close to full attendance" at the centre, which has not received instructions to close so far. She added that the school is monitoring the health of the children closely and there has been no signs of any of them falling ill.

The school also intends to cut short the contract of the teacher, who taught Kindergarten 1 classes at the centre for more than a year.

As a follow-up measure, parents will be able to contact the TB Control Unit for X-rays to be taken of their children. The costs will be fully subsidised by MOH.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.