All 13 new COVID cases in Singapore imported; 437 NUS UTown hostel residents tested

Staff Writer, Singapore
·Editorial Team
·4-min read
A woman wearing a face mask checks her phone. (PHOTO: Dhany Osman / Yahoo News Singapore)
A woman wearing a face mask checks her phone. (PHOTO: Dhany Osman / Yahoo News Singapore)

SINGAPORE — The Ministry of Health (MOH) confirmed 13 new COVID-19 cases in Singapore on Tuesday (23 March), taking the country's total case count to 60,221.

All cases are imported and there are no local infections reported for the 11th day in a row. "All new cases today are asymptomatic, and were detected from our proactive screening and surveillance," said the MOH.

Among the 13 imported cases, three are Singaporeans and two are permanent residents who returned from Austria, India, Malaysia and the US.

One of the Singaporeans is a 40-year-old woman who had been residing in Austria since August 2019. She returned to Singapore on 2 March, and served her stay-home notice at a dedicated facility until 16 March.

Both her on-arrival test on 2 March, as well as her swab done on 15 March during the notice, were negative for COVID-19.

The woman was detected when she took a COVID-19 pre-departure test on 20 March in preparation for a trip to Indonesia. Her test result came back positive on 22 March, and she was conveyed to the National Centre for Infectious Diseases.

"Her Ct value was very high, which is indicative of a low viral load, and her serology test result has also come back positive. Given that these indicate likely past infection, we have classified the case as imported based on her travel history," said the MOH.

It added that the woman is likely to be shedding minute fragments of the virus ribonucleic acid (RNA), which are no longer transmissible and infective to others.

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Among the other imported cases are a dependant’s pass holder who arrived from India and a work pass holder who arrived from the US.

Five others are work permit holders who arrived from Bangladesh, India and the Philippines, of whom one is a foreign domestic worker. The remaining case is a short-term visit pass holder who arrived from the United Arab Emirates for a work project in Singapore.

All imported cases were placed on stay-home notice upon their arrival here and were tested while serving the notice.

The MOH noted that the number of new cases in the community has decreased from two in the week before to none in the past week. The number of unlinked cases in the community has also decreased from two in the week before to none in the past week.

The ministry also added several venues to its list of public places visited by COVID-19 community cases while they were infectious. They include Yuhua Village Market and Food Centre, JEM shopping centre, Paragon, Westgate, Millenia Walk and Sushi-GO at Jurong Point.

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437 NUS UTown hostel residents tested

Separately, the MOH said that low levels of COVID-19 viral RNA were detected on 21 March from the National Environment Agency’s testing of wastewater sample from the UTown Residence North Tower at the National University of Singapore.

The sample was collected a day before.

"There is evidence to suggest that this may be due to viral shedding from a recovered past infection among the residents, but as a precautionary measure, the MOH carried out a special testing operations today to test residents of the affected apartments," said the ministry.

A total of 437 people, excluding the recovered case, have been swabbed for COVID- 19 during the testing operations, and all results are currently pending.

99% of total cases have recovered, none in ICU

With 12 more patients discharged from hospitals or community isolation facilities on Tuesday, 60,063 cases – or 99.7 per cent of the total – have fully recovered from the infection.

Most of the 25 hospitalised cases are stable or improving. None of them are in the intensive care unit.

A total of 103 patients – with mild symptoms or are clinically well but still test positive – are isolated and cared for at community facilities.

Apart from the 30 patients who have died from COVID-19 complications, 15 others who tested positive for the virus were determined to have died from unrelated causes, including three whose deaths were attributed to a heart attack and another four, whose deaths were attributed to coronary heart disease.

Among the 93 confirmed cases reported from 17 to 23 March, 32 cases have tested positive for their serology tests, 46 have tested negative, and 15 serology test results are pending.

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