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Mis-reported COVID-19 Case Due to Laboratory Error

14th Jul 2020

       An error made by a COVID-19 testing laboratory has resulted in an erroneous reporting of a COVID-19 case as positive, when the result is in fact negative. 

2.   Case 45655, a Secondary One student from Jurong West Secondary School who is asymptomatic, was reported as a confirmed case by the Ministry of Health (MOH) on 10 July 2020. This was based on the erroneous test results submitted by the laboratory. Due to a human error, the laboratory had mislabelled a swab sample from a COVID-19 positive individual as belonging to Case 45655 without properly verifying the patient identifiers of the specimen tubes. Consequently, Case 45655 was recorded as being positive for COVID-19, and was reported to MOH as such. 

3.  The error was discovered upon re-testing of Case 45655 and MOH was informed of the error on 13 July. The mislabelled positive sample belongs to a migrant worker who had been isolated since his swab, and had not been in contact with any other individuals. He is currently well.

4.    Further testing of the correct sample and new swab samples from the student all produced negative results for COVID-19. The test results for the close contacts who had been placed on quarantine following the first confirmed case at the school (Case 45160) have all tested negative for COVID-19 as well. This means there is no transmission at the school. 

5.    The student had so far been isolated and had not come into contact with any other COVID-19 patients and is therefore not at risk of infection from other patients in the hospital. MOH has informed the Ministry of Education, and rescinded the Quarantine Orders of the close contacts who had previously been placed on quarantine. 

6.    MOH takes a serious view of this error. We are investigating this matter, and will take appropriate actions against the laboratory if it is found to be in breach of protocols. In the meantime, the laboratory has reviewed and tightened its processes to prevent a recurrence of the error. 

14 JULY 2020

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