New Covid-19 cluster at S'pore's largest dorm; woman who works at ITE College Central among local cases

Sungei Tengah Lodge is Singapore's largest dorm, housing about 16,000 workers. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - A 56-year-old Singaporean woman who works at the Institute of Technical Education (ITE) College Central was one of two community Covid-19 cases confirmed by the Ministry of Health (MOH) on Saturday (Aug 22).

Two other cases were linked to Sungei Tengah Lodge to form a new cluster. One of Singapore's largest dormitories, it had been closed as a cluster a month ago.

The 56-year-old woman tested positive on Friday and had gone to work after the onset of symptoms on Wednesday.

She was detected under MOH's enhanced community testing to test all individuals aged 13 and above who are diagnosed with acute respiratory infection (ARI) at first presentation to a doctor.

The other community case, also unlinked, was a 63-year-old Singaporean woman, who had been tested after being admitted to a hospital for another medical condition. She exhibited symptoms on Thursday and tested positive on Friday.

Epidemiological investigations of the cases are in progress, MOH said, adding that all the identified close contacts of the cases have been isolated and placed on quarantine.

The two Singaporeans were among 50 new coronavirus cases announced by the ministry on Saturday, taking Singapore's total to 56,266.

Of these, two of the newly confirmed cases were linked to 55 previous cases to form a new cluster at Sungei Tengah Lodge, said MOH on Saturday.

The dormitory at 500 Old Choa Chu Kang Road is one of Singapore's largest dormitories. It was previously confirmed as one of the biggest clusters here and was closed as a cluster on July 21.

There were also five imported cases who had been placed on stay-home notices upon arrival in Singapore. They tested positive while serving their notices, said MOH.

A 50-year-old Singaporean man who returned to Singapore from Iran on Aug 10 was among the imported Covid-19 patients. He displayed symptoms of the virus on Tuesday and tested positive on Friday.

A photo of Institute of Technical Education College Central on Aug 13, 2018. PHOTO: ST FILE

Two of the imported cases are dependant's pass holders who arrived from India and the Netherlands on Aug 10. The Indian and Dutch nationals were both asymptomatic and tested positive on Friday and Saturday respectively.

Another imported patient, who was also asymptomatic, is a 40-year-old Filipino national and a work permit holder currently employed in Singapore. She arrived from the Philippines on Aug 9 and tested positive on Saturday.

The remaining case is an 18-year-old Indian national and a student's pass holder who arrived from India on Aug 8. She was asymptomatic as well and tested positive on Friday.

All five imported cases had been placed on a 14-day SHN upon arrival in Singapore, and were tested while serving the stay-home period at dedicated facilities, said MOH.

SPH Brightcove Video
Sungei Tengah Lodge was one of the first dormitories hit by Covid-19. In April, it was gazetted as an isolation area and its 23,000 occupants were quarantined in their rooms. After two months of testing Sungei Tengah Lodge was clear of Covid-19.

Migrant workers living in dormitories made up the remaining 43 new cases on Saturday.

MOH said it has completed its screening and testing of all staff in the public bus industry who work at depots and interchanges. It added that this was a precautionary measure after some Covid-19 cases were detected at Bukit Panjang Integrated Transport Hub.

In all, more than 14,800 staff and close contacts of the cases had been tested using the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test between July 23 and Aug 15 and all have tested negative, except 10 which have been announced earlier, said MOH.

The number of new daily cases in the community remained stable at an average of two cases per day in the past two weeks. The number of unlinked cases in the community has also remained stable at an average of one case per day in the past two weeks, said MOH.

With 269 cases discharged on Saturday, 53,905 patients have fully recovered from the disease.

A total of 81 patients remain in hospital, with none in intensive care. A further 2,238 are isolated and recuperating in community facilities.

Singapore has had 27 deaths from Covid-19 complications, while 15 who tested positive have died of other causes.

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