SINGAPORE - A possible Covid-19 cluster has surfaced at Tan Tock Seng Hospital, with a nurse infected and likely infections in a doctor and three patients in a general ward.
The Health Ministry said that one of the three new Covid-19 community cases on Wednesday (April 28) was a nurse from Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH).
The 46-year-old Filipino woman was deployed at Ward 9D, a general ward.
She developed a cough, sore throat and body aches on Tuesday, and sought medical treatment at TTSH, said MOH.
Her test result came back positive for Covid-19 infection on the same day, and she was warded at the National Centre for Infectious Diseases (NCID).
Her serology test result is pending.
She received her first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine on Jan 26 and the second dose on Feb 18.
The vaccine is effective in preventing symptomatic disease for the vast majority of those vaccinated, but it is possible for vaccinated individuals to get infected, said the ministry in a statement.
TTSH has locked down the affected ward, and tested the patients and staff who had been in the ward.
The hospital said late Wednesday night that it is also tightening its ward visiting policy till further notice as a necessary precaution to contain the situation and protect its patients and staff.
"We are tightening our ward visiting policy till further notice, allowing only two pre-registered visitors throughout a patient's stay," it said in a Facebook post.
"We will monitor the situation and review our policy accordingly. We will also be swabbing all staff in the main hospital’s ward block."
So far, MOH said it has detected four more cases in TTSH who have tested preliminarily positive for Covid-19 infection. These are a doctor and three patients who were being cared for in the same ward.
As a precautionary measure, all staff who treated the infected patients, as well as all visitors, patients and staff working in Ward 9D will be placed under quarantine, it said.
Epidemiological investigations and contact tracing are ongoing.
As it is conducting further testing for these four cases, they have not been included in Wednesday's case count, MOH explained.
The Straits Times understands that one of the patients found to have tested positive for the virus is a 72-year-old woman who had been warded at the hospital since April 20.
She had been admitted to Ward 9D - a C class ward - for rheumatoid arthritis and developed a cough and fever on Sunday.
She was told by a doctor around noon on Wednesday that she had to go for a Covid-19 test because she had been having a fever for several days. The results came back positive at about 5pm.
Meanwhile, her husband received a call at about 2pm from a nurse saying there was a suspected Covid-19 case in his wife's ward, but that it was not his wife.
The woman, a housewife, had not yet received the Covid-19 vaccine but was scheduled to get her first shot on Wednesday.
Her husband, son, daughter and a seven-year-old grandson who had visited her will be quarantined.
Generally, the incubation period for the virus is five to six days, but can be as short as two days or longer than 14 days. Patients are also believed to be infectious for a couple of days before symptoms appear.
The number of new cases in the community has increased to 13 cases in the past week from nine cases in the week before. The number of unlinked cases in the community has also increased to six cases in the past week from five cases in the week before.
Among the other two community cases on Wednesday is a 38-year-old Singaporean man who works as an Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) officer deployed at Changi Airport Terminal 1, but had not gone to work after an onset of symptoms.
He developed a cough last Friday and sought medical treatment the next day at a GP clinic, where he was given two days’ medical leave.
On Monday, he developed a fever, loss of sense of smell and body aches, and sought medical treatment at TTSH the next day. He was tested for Covid-19 and his test came back positive on the same day.
His previous tests from rostered routine testing – the last was on April 22 – were all negative. His serology test result is pending.
The second case is a 58-year-old Singaporean man who works as a construction
project manager in Nepal, and had been there last year from Feb 13 to Dec 13.
When he returned to Singapore, he served his stay-home notice (SHN) at a dedicated facility until Dec 27. His test taken on Dec 23 during SHN was negative and he was asymptomatic, said the ministry.
He was detected when he took a Covid-19 pre-departure test on Monday in preparation for his trip back to Nepal.
His test result came back positive the next day, and he was taken to the NCID.
His serology test result is pending, but his Ct value was very high, which is indicative of a low viral load.
MOH said he could be shedding minute fragments of the virus RNA from a past infection, which are no longer transmissible and infective to others.
There were 20 imported cases and no dormitory cases on Wednesday.