TB fugitive 'not linked to recent clusters'

This is despite his having evaded treatment for two years, says Health Ministry

Patients at the Communicable Disease Centre’s (CDC) tuberculosis (TB) ward.
Patients at the Communicable Disease Centre’s (CDC) tuberculosis (TB) ward. PHOTO: ST FILE

The man who fled tuberculosis treatment three times is not known to have links with any recent TB clusters, despite being on the run for two years, said the Ministry of Health (MOH) in response to queries from The Straits Times.

It said that although some of his close contacts were found to have the latent form of the disease, which is not infectious, they might not have got it from him.

"His close contacts have been screened and none of them were found to have active TB," the ministry added. "He does not have multi-drug-resistant TB, and is not known to be linked to any existing or recently reported TB clusters in Singapore."

The man, Mr Mohamed Zaini Parman, was first diagnosed with TB in January 2014.

He failed to report for treatment twice, and was served an isolation order in May that year.

He was then supposed to stay at Tan Tock Seng Hospital's Communicable Disease Centre until the end of his treatment, but escaped from the premises three times - once through a window.

He also gave false particulars to police officers to evade going back to isolation.

Although MOH officers visited areas where he had been known to frequent - including his home, workplace, and a food centre in Bedok - they failed to track him down.

The Straits Times visited his home twice during the week but no one answered the door.

Neighbours said they were unaware of the incident and have not been called for screening .

One of them, Mr Bernard Toh, 64, said he did not know about the incident. "I hang around the block's void deck but nobody talked about this."

Another neighbour, Madam Murni Ab Razak, 38, said that neither she nor her husband had heard of the incident or were screened.

MOH said people who do not go for TB treatment pose a risk to both themselves and the public.

"Patients who do not adhere to their treatment regime have a higher chance of developing drug resistance, encountering treatment failure, and future relapse," it said.

"The MOH takes adherence to TB treatment very seriously, and is prepared to take stern actions against individuals who abscond from treatment."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 17, 2016, with the headline 'TB fugitive 'not linked to recent clusters''. Print Edition | Subscribe