MOH can’t confirm how S’porean caught Wuhan virus; Related virus can survive for hours outside body

The Ministry of Health (MOH) reported a new case yesterday (6 Feb) that a 41 year-old Singaporean, who has no recent travel history to China, was infected with the deadly Wuhan virus in Singapore.

He was referred to as Case 29. MOH has yet to find out how he contracted the disease.

MOH said, “Epidemiological investigations and contact tracing are ongoing to identify individuals who had close contact with the case, and to establish any link he may have had with confirmed cases in Singapore or travellers from mainland China.”

“We are interviewing the patient and his close contacts, and investigating the locations he had recently been to,” MOH added.

Straits Times (ST) went ahead to report that the person appears to have “no apparent links” to previous cases. ST wrote, “The 41-year-old patient with no apparent links to past cases tested positive for the virus late on Wednesday night. Contact tracing is still in progress, with a focus on identifying any links he may have with past cases or travellers from China.”

MOH said that the 41-year-old developed a fever last Tuesday (28 Jan) and visited a clinic the next day. He sought treatment at another clinic on 30 Jan before being admitted to Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital on Monday (3 Feb). On Wednesday (5 Feb), he was confirmed to have contracted the Wuhan virus. He is currently warded in an isolation room at NCID.

CNA further reported that the clinic the man visited on 30 Jan was the Seletar clinic of the Phoenix Medical Group.

Phoenix Medical said the person appeared “quite ill” with gastrointestinal and respiratory symptoms, as well as a moderate fever when he visited the clinic again on 3 Feb. As a precaution, the GP asked him to go to the hospital, which he went on the same day. It added that the patient “did not fulfill” MOH’s criteria for a suspected case of the coronavirus and as such was not sent to the hospital using a dedicated ambulance service.

CNA also said that the 41-year-old has “no known links” with the other confirmed cases so far.

Phoenix Medical assured that all the rooms, corridors, table tops, seats and examination couches in its clinic had been “deep cleansed” yesterday. The GP who attended to the man had also opted to take a voluntary leave of absence until Feb 17.

Meanwhile, in a media interview, Professor Paul Tambyah who is a senior consultant at the NUS Division of Infectious Diseases as well as the Chairman of Singapore Democratic Party (SDP), said that previous studies done on the common cold coronavirus show that its survivability outside a body depends on the temperature and humidity in the area.

“In these studies, at 6 deg C, the infectious virus particles could survive for close to 100 hours. But at 30 deg C, the particles were gone in about an hour or two,” Prof Tambyah said.

“At high temperature, high humidity, the virus is gone very quickly. At low temperature, low humidity, it can stay for quite a while.”


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