The Ministry of Health (MOH) is investigating 13 cases of COVID-19 infection amongst individuals who had served Stay-Home Notice (SHN) at Mandarin Orchard Singapore (333 Orchard Road) as these cases were said to be likely infected from a similar source and transmissions might have occurred at the hotel.
In a press release on Saturday (19 December), the ministry stated that Mandarin Orchard Singapore will stop accepting new guests with immediate effect as a precautionary measure and those currently serving SHN at the hotel will be moved to another SHN dedicated facility.
13 imported cases, who were confirmed between 2 November and 11 November to have COVID-19 infection, were observed to have high genetic similarity despite the cases having arrived from different countries, including Bahrain, Canada, Indonesia, Myanmar, Netherlands, Philippines, South Korea, UAE, UK and US
“This suggests that these cases were likely infected from a similar source,” said the ministry, adding that further investigations found that these 13 cases had served SHN at Mandarin Orchard Singapore between 22 October and 11 November 2020.
The ministry noted that 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.
“From MOH’s preliminary investigations, we cannot exclude that transmissions could have occurred at Mandarin Orchard Singapore,” it wrote.
It also noted that genome sequencing and analysis are continuing for cases beyond 11 November.
According to the ministry, the National Public Health Laboratory conducts whole genome sequencing and phylogenetic analysis on all COVID-19 cases as part of routine laboratory surveillance. It takes about four weeks to culture the virus and for the genome sequencing to be completed.
The ministry said that the hotel has made arrangements to check out existing guests progressively. Restaurant and event spaces within the hotel will also be closed.
MOH noted that it has commenced special testing operations to test around 500 staff of the hotel for COVID-19 infection, which includes both staffs serving those on SHN and those who serve other guests in other parts of the hotel.
It will also test all who are currently serving SHN at Mandarin Orchard Singapore for COVID-19 infection to determine their status, instead of waiting till their SHN exit swab.
Persons on SHN are housed in a dedicated tower and floors at the hotel, segregated from all other guests, with no interaction amongst them, however, as a precautionary measure to ensure the safety of all guests in the hotel, the hotel will check out all its occupants, said the ministry.
Persons serving SHN will be transported via dedicated vehicles to an alternative SHN dedicated facility.
Deep cleaning and disinfection will be carried out by the hotel, in consultation with MOH and the National Environment Agency.
The ministry advised those who have stayed at Mandarin Orchard Singapore between 11 November and 19 December are to monitor their health closely for 14 days from their last date of stay and ask anyone to 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.
The total number of infection cases in Singapore as of Saturday is 58,403.