On Tuesday (4 February), the Ministry of Health (MOH) announced that a man from Wuhan has become the first patient in Singapore that was discharged from the National Centre for Infectious Diseases (NCID) after making full recovery.
The ministry added that the 35-year-old man, who was Singapore’s seventh confirmed case, has been “comprehensively tested negative” for the virus.
“We’ve discharged one patient today..all his symptoms had fully resolved and he’s had consecutive tests over three days where the tests were all negative,” MOH’s director of medical services Kenneth Mak said at a press conference.
He continued, “We are quite confident that, in fact, he has no longer got any infection there.”
It was reported that the Wuhan resident first arrived in Singapore on 23 January with his family and friends and stayed at Marina Bay Sands.
However, he developed symptoms on the very next day and went to Raffles Hospital, before being transported on a private ambulance to NCID.
Assoc Prof Mak also mentioned that another patient is being prepared for the “possibility of discharge over the next few days”, and that doctors are continuing to monitor all the infected patients closely.
“We cannot commit just yet, because it is a decision that the doctors (will have to) make as they review the patient on a day-to-day basis. And therefore it would be premature for me to say that he would definitely be discharged,” he said.
He added that there are other patients who still have the virus but are not in a serious condition, including at least three who are showing no symptoms at all. He noted that many of them are continuing to show good progress.
In fact, the two patients who are not showing any symptoms were among the six new confirmed cases announced on 4 February.
Additionally, Prof Mak also noted that five of the patients have been given “some oxygen” to help with their breathing, adding that this is “not surprising in view of the fact that they had pneumonia”.
“This is basically to support them. None of them are in the ICU (Intensive Care Unit), none of them are critically ill at this point in time,” he explained.
On Tuesday, MOH confirmed the Republic’s first locally transmitted cases of the deadly coronavirus after four Singapore residents tested positive for the virus and have not travelled to China recently.
The four new cases comprise a tour guide for a group of Chinese tourists, two salespersons at health product store Yong Thai Hang — one of the places visited by the group while in Singapore — and one domestic helper of one of the aforementioned persons.
Currently, Singapore has recorded 24 cases involving the novel coronavirus.
MOH also stated that as of Tuesday afternoon, 289 suspect cases for the novel coronavirus have tested negative. It added that the test results for the remaining 20 cases are pending.
If that’s not all, contact tracing for the confirmed cases is still ongoing. Up to Tuesday noon, MOH has identified 311 close contacts. Out of the 239 who are still in Singapore, 234 have been contacted and are being quarantined or isolated.
“Efforts are ongoing to contact the remaining five close contacts,” the ministry said.
Treated with a combination of antiretroviral drugs
While speaking at the same press conference, MOH’s chief health scientist Tan Chorh Chuan revealed that a “small number” of coronavirus patients in Singapore have been treated with a combination of antiretroviral drugs like lopinavir and ritonavir.
The drug concoction is normally given to treat patients with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) that causes Aids. However, it is uncertain if the patient who was discharged yesterday was given the drugs.
Clinical trials are still being conducted in China to test if the drugs can treat patients with the novel coronavirus, Professor Tan said.
“We are waiting to see how the trails are proceeding and we hope, in the weeks ahead, we will have some indication,” he noted.
Prof Mak added, “In the meantime, among the different drugs that have been tested, these agents appear to be effective, but we can’t be certain at the moment. They appear promising and the trials will help us understand how effective they can be.”
Thailand’s health ministry said on Sunday that coronavirus patients who were given the drugs have showed promising initial results.