UPDATE: DBS confirms that Case 77 is its second employee to be infected.
SINGAPORE — The Ministry of Health (MOH) on Monday (17 February) confirmed two new cases of the novel coronavirus in Singapore including a one-year-old baby, bringing the total to 77.
Five more patients were also discharged from the hospital on Monday, bringing the total of those who have fully recovered from the COVID-19 virus and have been discharged to 24.
The baby boy was among a group of Singaporeans evacuated from the city of Wuhan on 9 February, while the other patient. is linked to the DBS employee who was previously confirmed as a case.
Out of the 77 cases, seven have no established links to any previous cases or travel history to mainland China. In total, there are 55 cases of local transmissions.
Case 76: 1-year-old baby evacuee from Wuhan
The baby boy had no symptoms when he boarded the flight and was put under quarantine upon landing in Singapore.
He is currently warded in an isolation room at the KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital (KKH).
All Singaporeans evacuated from Wuhan were tested for COVID-19 as an added precaution and the baby was tested positive for the virus on Sunday afternoon, said the ministry.
He is the second-youngest confirmed case in Singapore. The youngest case is a six-month-old infant.
Case 77: Second DBS employee
The second case is a 35-year-old Singaporean man with no recent travel history to China. He was identified by the ministry as a contact of a DBS employee who works at the bank’s head office at Marina Bay Financial Centre and was confirmed to have the virus last Wednesday.
The bank on Tuesday confirmed that the man is a DBS employee who works in the bank’s satellite office. Yahoo News Singapore understands that the office is located on the 24th floor of Ngee Ann City Tower A along Orchard Road.
The man tested positive for the virus on Monday morning and is currently warded in an isolation room at the National Centre for Infectious Diseases.
He is the third case linked to the Singaporean bank employee, with the other two cases being the latter’s family members, a 30-year-old Singaporean man, and a 61-year-old Singaporean woman.
The 61-year-old woman was among the five patients who were discharged on Monday.
The others are a 31-year-old male Chinese national who arrived in Singapore from Wuhan, a 47-year-old Singaporean woman who was evacuated from the Chinese city last month, a 53-year-old Singaporean man who visited The Life Church and Missions Singapore, and a 34-year-old Singaporean man who worked at the Grace Assembly of God church.
Remaining cases, close contacts
As of Monday, most of the 53 remaining hospitalised cases are stable or improving, while four remain in critical condition in the intensive care unit.
As of noon on Monday, 937 of the suspect cases have tested negative for the virus, while test results for the remaining 103 are pending.
Separately, the ministry has identified 2,358 close contacts who have been quarantined. Of these, 1,081 are currently quarantined, and 1,277 have completed their quarantine.
The MOH also reiterated its advice for Singaporeans to defer all travel to Hubei province, home to Wuhan where the virus originated, and all non-essential travel to mainland China.
To date, there are at least five identified clusters here, with the biggest thus far of 18 cases linked to Grace Assembly of God.
The other four are associated with health products shop Yong Thai Hang along Cavan Road, The Life Church, and Missions Singapore in Paya Lebar, a business meeting at the Grand Hyatt hotel and the construction site at Seletar Aerospace Heights.
COVID-19’s death toll surpasses SARS epidemic
The novel strain belongs to the same family of coronaviruses as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), which killed nearly 800 people globally during a 2002-2003 outbreak and also started in China.
It likely originated from Wuhan’s Huanan Seafood Market, where live animals or products – such as foxes, wolf puppies, giant salamanders, snakes, porcupines, and camel meat – are sold.
Declared a global emergency by the World Health Organisation (WHO), COVID-19 has spread to 28 territories beyond mainland China. The WHO also said that cases being transmitted by people who have never travelled to China could be the "tip of the iceberg".
By territory, Singapore has the second-highest number of confirmed COVID-19 cases after mainland China.
The global tally includes cruise ship Diamond Princess, moored off Japan, which has 454 cases. Five Singaporeans on board the ship have reported that they are physically well, said a Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson last Wednesday, in response to Yahoo News Singapore’s queries.
As of Monday, more than 1,700 people have died of the virus in China, which has sickened over 71,000 people. Five territories – Japan, Hong Kong, Taiwan, the Philippines, and France – have each reported the death of a patient infected with the virus.
Patients suffering from the new strain may exhibit fever and symptoms of lower respiratory illness – such as coughing or difficulty in breathing – as well as pneumonia-like symptoms like a runny nose, sore throat, and headache.
However, some who have died from it have not displayed symptoms of fever, according to details released by China’s National Health Commission, potentially complicating global efforts to check for infected travellers as they arrive at airports and other travel hubs.
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