Tuberculosis case at Bukit Batok pre-school; screening ongoing

Selected children and staff of a Bukit Batok pre-school are being screened for tuberculosis (TB), after a person at the school was diagnosed with the infectious disease.

The infected patient was placed on medical leave immediately after the diagnosis was made and is being treated, said a Health Ministry spokesman yesterday.

The results of the TB screenings are still pending, and those who were in close contact with the infected patient in the PAP Community Foundation (PCF) Sparkletots pre-school are being identified, said the spokesman.

She added that the Health Ministry and the Tuberculosis Control Unit (TBCU) were notified on Nov 26 of the TB case at the pre-school in Block 293 Bukit Batok.

The spokesman noted TB is spread through close, prolonged contact with an infected person, not through contact with items or surfaces touched by the patient.

As any patient infected would be on medical leave and has started on treatment, there is no risk of further exposure to the school, she added.

Those found to have the latent form of TB infection are also not infectious, and the TBCU will follow up with them, she said.

A parent said he was informed of the TB case last Thursday through a letter from the pre-school, and questioned why parents were notified only two weeks after the authorities found out about the case.

"There was a parent-teacher conference a week before we were told, and all of us were there but we didn't know that there was an infection," said the parent, who first wrote to Stomp about the incident. "The question is why were we kept in the dark; why were there so many days of waiting time?"

 
 

Responding to queries, a PCF Sparkletots spokesman said the TBCU informed the pre-school of the TB patient only last Tuesday.

The parent said that most of those contacted for the screening were children from the same class.

The Early Childhood and Development Agency said TBCU has also identified some staff to undergo screening.

The PCF spokesman declined to say if the affected patient was a staff member or a pre-school pupil, citing patient confidentiality.

Symptoms of active TB include a persistent cough, chest pain when breathing or coughing, tiredness, fever, night sweats and loss of appetite or weight.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 17, 2019, with the headline 'TB case at Bukit Batok pre-school; screening ongoing'. Subscribe