SINGAPORE — The Ministry of Health (MOH) has opened investigation on 13 cases of COVID-19 infection among individuals who had served their Stay-Home Notices (SHNs) at Mandarin Orchard Singapore.
It added in a media release on Saturday (19 December) that, as a precautionary measure, the hotel will stop accepting new guests with immediate effect. Those currently serving SHN at the hotel will be moved to another dedicated facility.
The hotel has made arrangements to check out existing guests progressively. Restaurant and event spaces within the hotel will also be closed.
High genetic similarity despite having arrived from different countries
The 13 imported cases were confirmed to have COVID-19 infection between 2 November and 11 November. As part of routine laboratory surveillance, the National Public Health Laboratory conducted whole genome sequencing and phylogenetic analysis on all COVID-19 cases.
These 13 cases were observed to have high genetic similarity, despite the cases having arrived from different countries, including Bahrain, Canada, Indonesia, Myanmar, the Netherlands, the Philippines, South Korea, United Arab Emirates, Britain and the United States. This suggests that these cases were likely infected from a similar source.
Investigations by MOH found that these 13 cases had served SHN at Mandarin Orchard between 22 October and 11 November.
“Epidemiological investigations were immediately initiated to determine if there is a potential link between these 13 cases, and to study if transmission could have occurred locally, and not from their country of origin,” the ministry said in the media release.
“From MOH’s preliminary investigations, we cannot exclude that transmissions could have occurred at Mandarin Orchard Singapore.”
Deep cleaning and disinfection to be carried out
Mandarin Orchard has stopped taking in persons on SHN from 13 December as its contract to serve as a dedicated SHN facility will expire at the end of the month.
Deep cleaning and disinfection will be carried out by the hotel, in consultation with MOH and the National Environment Agency.
MOH said that hotels used as SHN-dedicated facilities, such as Mandarin Orchard, must have in place strict protocols to segregate persons on SHN from all other guests. These include placing persons on SHN in segregated blocks, wings or floors, and ensuring their route of movement is clearly demarcated from other guests.
Persons on SHN are also not allowed to leave their rooms during their stay, and rooms are thoroughly disinfected and sanitised upon completion of SHN according to strict infection control measures. They will also not be allowed access to common facilities in the hotels.
Special testing operations for hotel staff
MOH has also commenced a special testing operations to test around 500 Mandarin Orchard hotel staff for COVID-19 infection. These include both staff serving those on SHN, and those who serve other guests in other parts of the hotel.
The ministry will also test all who are currently serving SHN at the hotel for COVID-19 infection to determine their status, instead of waiting till their SHN exit swab.
Guests who have stayed at Mandarin Orchard between 11 November and 19 December are advised to monitor their health closely for 14 days from their last date of stay.
They should see a doctor promptly if they develop symptoms of acute respiratory infection (such as cough, sore throat and runny nose), as well as fever and loss of taste or smell, and inform the doctor of their exposure history.
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