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UPDATE ON TUBERCULOSIS SCREENING AT JALAN BUKIT MERAH

       The Tuberculosis (TB) screening exercise conducted by the Ministry of Health (MOH) at Jalan Bukit Merah has concluded. In total, 2,548 individuals have been screened. Of these, about 84.7% (2,158 persons) have tested negative for TB and do not require follow-up action. 12.6% (322 persons) have been diagnosed with latent TB infection, and 0.1% (two persons) have been diagnosed with active TB disease. Only those who have been diagnosed with active TB disease are infectious. The two persons have commenced treatment and will be non-infectious upon completion of two weeks of treatment. Another 2.6% (66 persons) require further evaluation and have been advised to monitor for symptoms until their test results are out.

 

2.     In January 2024, MOH conducted a mandatory TB screening exercise for residents and workers of Blocks 1 and 3 Jalan Bukit Merah, ABC Brickworks Market and Food Centre and Thong Kheng Seniors Activity Centre @ Queenstown at Block 3 Jalan Bukit Merah as a precautionary measure following the identification of a cluster of cases. Voluntary screening was also offered to frequent visitors to the Blocks 1, 2 and 3 Jalan Bukit Merah and ABC Brickworks Market and Food Centre. From 11 to 15 January, blood tests were administered to detect exposure to TB. Subsequently from 25 to 27 January, on-site chest X-ray screening was conducted to assess persons who tested positive on the blood test.

 

3.     Amongst those who underwent mandatory screening, 18.4% tested positive on their blood test, which could mean they have latent or active TB. This is higher than the historical positive rate of 12.7% in the general population, but this discrepancy is within expectation due to the TB cases in the area.

 

4.     In contrast, the rate of TB cases detected amongst those who have participated voluntarily in the screening exercise was lower than in the general population. This indicates that these individuals, as casual visitors to the area and ABC Brickworks Market and Food Centre, did not have a higher risk of getting infected with TB.  MOH has therefore assessed that there is no need to further expand screening.

 

5.     To date, 97.3% (1,701 out of 1,748 persons) who had been identified for mandatory screening have come forward to be tested. MOH will continue to engage the remaining individuals who have not completed their mandatory screening and arrange for them to be screened at the TB Control Unit (TBCU). Clinic appointments at TBCU have also been made for persons who have tested positive on their blood test or those with abnormal chest X-ray.

 

6.     Persons who have been diagnosed with active TB disease will be started on the appropriate treatment. Those diagnosed with latent TB infection will be offered preventive treatment to reduce their risk of development of active TB disease in the future. Latent TB infection is non-infectious and persons with latent TB infection cannot spread the disease to others.

 

 

MINISTRY OF HEALTH

8 FEBRUARY 2024

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