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Continued Vigilance Needed with Reopening

                As we resume more of our economic and social activities, we must continue to stay vigilant and uphold safe distancing measures. The Ministry of Health (MOH) has stepped up surveillance and contact tracing of the community cases in June. These have been cases that were identified through our expanded testing strategy including regular surveillance testing in higher risk settings, and also testing of those diagnosed with acute respiratory infection (ARI) at first presentation to a doctor. Once a case is detected, MOH will quickly identify all potential close contacts, and test and isolate individuals to protect the community from further transmission. But we will also need everyone to do their part to help control the spread of the infection.

Closely Monitoring and Aggressive Ring-fencing of Community Cases

2.           In the past week, we have seen an average of 8 new community cases a day, of which an average of 4 cases a day are unlinked. This is an increase from around 5 community cases a day in the last week of Phase One, with about 2 a day being unlinked.

3.           Many of these cases are picked up from our expanded testing strategy, where we test more extensively among key population groups in the community.

  a.  We carry out active surveillance of population groups who are deemed vulnerable or who have a higher risk of exposure to COVID-19. These include workers in the construction, marine and process sectors, and frontline workers supporting our COVID-19 operations.

  b.  As we re-open our borders and to facilitate travel, we have started testing incoming travellers before the end of their Stay-Home Notice period.

  c.  We have also expanded our strategy to test all individuals aged 13 and above who are diagnosed with ARI at first presentation to a doctor.

4.           Once cases are identified, MOH will utilise a combination of technology tools such as TraceTogether and SafeEntry, as well as professional judgment, to contact trace rapidly and quarantine close contacts. Over time, our speed to isolation has improved, and the average time taken between identification of case to the issuance of a quarantine order to close contacts is now less than a day. To ring-fence and prevent further spread, we also test all close contacts of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the community, at the start and end of their quarantine period.

Management of Cases at 111 Tampines Street 11

5.           Our early detection and aggressive case finding efforts have helped us to quickly pick up and ring-fence cases. One example is our management of the cases at Block 111 Tampines Street 11. As part of our proactive screening of COVID-19 frontline workers, MOH picked up a positive case on 23 June involving a 66-year-old Singaporean male[1] who works at a dormitory which is a known cluster. Six of his household members[2] were subsequently tested positive for COVID-19 as part of contact tracing. Separately, on 27 June, a 15 year-old female Singaporean[3] residing in the same block reported sick and was confirmed to have COVID-19 infection after testing. One of her household members[4] also tested positive for COVID-19 as part of contact tracing.

6.           Epidemiological investigations are ongoing to establish if the cases across these two households are linked. However, as a precautionary measure, MOH has placed the 58 households residing within the same section of the block as the two households with confirmed cases under active phone surveillance and is facilitating COVID-19 testing for them and their visitors. Other households within the same block do not need to be tested as they do not share the same set of lifts and stairwell.

7.           Thus far, MOH has contacted 160 individuals, comprising residents and visitors of the affected households, and have facilitated testing for them at a nearby clinic. Of the 60 individuals who have been tested, so far all have been found to be negative for COVID-19.

8.           As these households and visitors are not close contacts of the confirmed cases, they are assessed to have a low risk of being infected. They are therefore not placed on quarantine but put under active phone surveillance as a precautionary measure. They will be contacted daily by MOH to monitor their health status, for up to 14 days, till 12 July. Identified residents can continue their essential daily activities if they are well, including going to work or school, but are encouraged to minimise non-essential activities especially while awaiting their COVID-19 test results. They are advised to monitor their health. Should they develop acute respiratory infection symptoms, they should seek immediate medical attention at nearby Public Health Preparedness Clinics (PHPCs) or polyclinics.

9.           In addition to our testing and contact tracing efforts, the Town Council has also taken steps to clean and disinfect the common areas in the entire block.As a further precautionary measure, the Town Council has also stepped up cleaning and disinfection of surrounding blocks.

10.          Residents can call MOH at 1800-333-9999 if they have queries.

Staying Vigilant  

11.          As we resume more activities under Phase Two, we must expect the number of cases to increase. We will need to continue to stay vigilant. The implementation of strong safe management measures, safe distancing measures and strict infection control measures by everyone is also key to reducing spread. Individuals should also use the TraceTogether and SafeEntry applications to facilitate contact tracing, and quickly see a doctor if they have respiratory symptoms. Together with everyone’s collective efforts, we can keep COVID-19 under control while we progressively resume activities safely.

2 JULY 2020

[1] Case 42616
[2] Cases 42943, 43261, 43263, 43146, 43262 and 44052
[3] Case 43297
[4] Case 44053

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