The Ministry of Health (MOH) will extend Tuberculosis (TB) and chest X-ray screening for current and former residents of 2 Jalan Bukit Merah, as well as stallholders, shop owners and their employees at that location, to 24 and 25 June 2022. This follows an earlier round of voluntary TB screening for these residents and workers from 27 to 31 May 2022. On-site chest X-ray will also be conducted for selected residents who require further testing.
2. As of 23 June 2022, a total of 574 out of 749 persons in the block have attended the TB screening. Of these 574 people screened, about 30% have tested positive for TB through blood test. Further tests are required to determine if these persons have TB infection or active TB disease. Those with active TB disease will be treated while those with latent TB infection will be given appointments for follow-up at the TB Control Unit and offered treatment if suitable.
3. We have also detected one more case that is genetically linked by Whole Genome Sequencing (WGS) to the cluster. Contact investigations for the new case are ongoing.
4. The extended screening exercise and further tests will be conducted free of charge. All persons living or working at the block who have not been screened for TB are required to participate in the extended screening exercise. The screening is mandatory under the Infectious Diseases Act (IDA). Persons who have been recalled for further tests will also be required to complete these tests. Staff from the National Centre for Infectious Diseases have conducted visits to non-respondent units to engage and urge residents who had not been screened earlier to undergo screening. Screening is not necessary for individuals who had occasionally visited the block or vicinity as the risk of transmission to persons who are transient contacts of a TB case is low.
5. The screening station will be located at the Queenstown Hock San Zone Residents’ Committee (RC) Centre at Block 3 Jalan Bukit Merah. Residents who are unavailable to attend the screening on these two days can get tested at the designated SATA Clinic (Potong Pasir Medical Centre) before 5 August 2022.
6. The symptoms of TB disease include persistent cough that lasts 3 weeks or longer, low-grade fever, night sweats, fatigue, weight loss and chest pain. TB is typically spread through close and prolonged contact with an infectious individual, and not by contact with items or surfaces touched by a person with TB. Therefore, persons who are contacted and screened following the detection of a TB individual typically comprise family members, close workplace colleagues and acquaintances from common social activities with close and regular interaction. This approach is recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) and is practised in Singapore.
7. TB is endemic in Singapore. TB infection is not uncommon in Singaporeans, with the prevalence of TB infection as high as 29% among those aged 70 to 79 years. Persons with TB infection do not experience symptoms of TB and are not infectious.
8. TB is curable and the spread of TB is preventable. Early detection and prompt treatment of cases remain important in helping those infected and rendering them non-infectious. For individuals diagnosed with TB disease, adherence to treatment is important.
MINISTRY OF HEALTH
24 JUNE 2022