Singapore reports 31 new COVID-19 cases, including 9 imported

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SINGAPORE: Singapore reported 31 new COVID-19 cases as of noon on Monday (Sep 21), including nine imported infections, the Ministry of Health (MOH) said in its daily preliminary report.

One case was later removed from the total count following further investigations as the patient’s first COVID-19 test had been “borderline positive”. 

Two subsequent tests for the patient, a 30-year-old male Singapore citizen, came back negative. MOH said investigations by laboratory experts and an expert panel assessed that his first test result was false-positive. 

The patient, also known as Case 57679, had initially been detected under MOH’s enhanced community testing for all individuals aged 13 and above if they are initially diagnosed with acute respiratory infection. 

With this case removed from the tally, Singapore’s current total number of cases stands at 57,606.

No new community cases were reported. All imported cases had been placed on stay-home notice upon their arrival in Singapore, said MOH.

Among the new cases on Monday, 30 were asymptomatic.

READ: Singapore-made COVID-19 swab test robot could reduce healthcare workers’ risk of infection

The nine imported cases include a Singapore permanent resident who returned to the country from India on Sep 9. Four cases are work pass or work permit holders who arrived from India on Sep 9 and Iran on Sep 15. 

Two more cases are dependant’s pass holders who arrived from India on Sep 9 and Iran on Sep 15. The remaining two are student’s pass holders who arrived from India on Sep 9.

Among the 22 cases residing in dormitories, 16 had been identified earlier as contacts of previous cases, and had already been quarantined to prevent further transmission, MOH said. They were tested during quarantine to determine their status.

The remaining six cases were detected through surveillance testing, such as the bi-weekly rostered routine testing of workers living in dormitories.

Further investigations also revealed that 13 of the dormitory cases are linked to Avery Lodge Dormitory, which now has a total of 128 confirmed infections.

In the MOH update on Monday evening, two locations were added to the list of places visited by COVID-19 cases during their infectious period. 

They were Universal Studios and Nanjing Impressions, a restaurant at Plaza Singapura. COVID-19 cases had visited USS on Sep 10 from 2.35pm to 8.35pm, and Plaza Singapura from 7pm to 7.50pm on Sep 11. 

SIXTY MORE DISCHARGED

Sixty more cases of COVID-19 infection have been discharged from hospitals or community isolation facilities. This takes the total number of recoveries to 57,241, MOH said.

Thirty-six confirmed cases are still in hospital, and most of them are stable or improving, MOH said, adding that none are in intensive care.

READ: A ‘science first’ approach to making COVID-19 vaccines, says Singapore pharmaceutical industry body

A pharmaceutical association in Singapore said in an interview with CNA that it is committed to a “science first” approach in the development of COVID-19 vaccines.

Vaccine development is traditionally a complex task that can take as long as 20 years, said Mr Ashish Pal, vice-president of the Singapore Association of Pharmaceutical Industries.

“You have pre-discovery phase that can last two to four years. Pre-clinical and clinical trials can take anything between five and 15 years and that does not include regulatory approvals and manufacturing,” he said.

“Companies that are developing vaccine candidates are now working on multiple elements of the development process … so (it) is in many ways much more risky, given the fact that a lot is happening much faster, but also in tandem.”

Despite the urgency, it is important not to compromise on safety, Mr Pal said.

The World Health Organization said earlier this month that it does not expect widespread vaccinations against COVID-19 until the middle of next year. None of the candidate vaccines in advanced clinical trials so far has demonstrated a “clear signal” of efficacy at the level of at least 50 per cent sought by the WHO, it said.

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