SINGAPORE - As at Monday (May 10), close to 12,500 people have been tested as part of a special testing operations carried out to detect any cases linked to the Tan Tock Seng Hopsital (TTSH) cluster.
Additionally, 12,000 TTSH staff, 1,000 patients as well as close to 2,500 individuals who have been quarantined have also been tested, Health Minister Gan Kim Yong said in Parliament on Tuesday (May 11).
Giving an update on the cluster, Mr Gan stressed that though the first detected case of the cluster was a staff nurse who developed symptoms on April 28 and dutifully reported them, this does not mean that she was the first confirmed case and had brought Covid-19 into the wards.
"Her responsible act enabled us to pick up the cluster at TTSH," said Mr Gan, adding that investigations are still ongoing.
Of the 43 cases in the TTSH cluster, seven staff and two patients had received full doses of the Covid-19 vaccine, said Mr Gan, who is co-chair of the multi-ministry task force tackling Covid-19.
"They were all either asymptomatic, or only exhibited mild symptoms, and none of them required oxygen support," he noted. Of the remaining 34 who were not fully vaccinated, six required oxygen, two are in intensive care and one has died from Covid-19 complications.
"While the numbers are too small to draw firm conclusions, the findings do indicate that vaccination provides critical protection even against Covid-19 variants," said Mr Gan, urging everyone to get vaccinated when the jab is offered to them, as well as to continue to comply with safe management measures even when they have been vaccinated.
"We know while vaccination does not eliminate the risks of infection totally, it does provide significant protection against infections, and helps to reduce the severity of the disease. It is also likely to reduce onward transmission," he added.
Mr Gan also outlined how efforts had been made to contain and isolate the infections at TTSH, so that they do not spread to the larger community. First, close contacts around the first detected case were quarantined, while others who could have been in contact with her were tested, including all staff and patients of the affected Ward 9D.
Testing and quarantine were also extended to all staff who worked in Ward 9D from April 20, as well as discharged and current inpatients and visitors to Ward 9D from April 20. This was after the detection of a patient who had entered the ward on April 20 and started to display Covid-19 pneumonia symptoms around April 20.
Testing was also expanded to include all inpatients and all staff working in the main ward block.
Subsequently, all other TTSH staff were also screened, and as an additional precaution, patients and staff from the main ward block were retested.
Another additional layer of defence was also added, with discharged patients and visitors who were in the hospital during the affected period also invited to be tested.
"They are not close contacts and hence have a lower risk of infection, but we offered to test them for abundance of caution and to give them peace of mind," said Mr Gan.
For every case detected, those around them were also tested and isolated, and all wards that had exposure to infectious cases were locked down, including wards in levels eight and nine, and wards 7D and 10B.
"We will continue to monitor these individuals who have been exposed, and retest them where necessary as some of them may be incubating the infection," said the minister.
He added that TTSH has implemented a series of measures to prevent further spread within the hospital.
It has stopped all new admissions to the hospital, restricted visitors, and reinforced the need for all staff to comply with infection control, hand hygiene, and personal protective equipment regimes.
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