The Ministry of Health (MOH) on Wednesday (23 December) confirmed that one COVID-19 case with the potentially more contagious B117 strain currently spreading across the United Kingdom has been found among the 31 imported COVID-19 cases from Europe that arrived in Singapore between 17 November and 17 December.
Of the remaining 30 cases, 12 were not infected with the B117 strain, while another 11 cases have been tested preliminarily positive for the B117 strain, according to MOH in a statement on Wednesday (23 December).
“5 samples cannot be sequenced due to their low viral load, and we are pending confirmatory results for another 11 cases who are preliminarily positive for the B117 strain. 2 cases have not been tested so far,” it noted.
However, the Ministry stressed that “there is currently no evidence that the B117 strain is circulating in the community”.
“All the cases had been placed on 14-day SHN at dedicated facilities or isolated upon arrival in Singapore, and their close contacts had been quarantined earlier,” it added.
According to MOH, the sole positive case with the UK virus strain, known as case 58504, is a 17-year-old female Singaporean who has been studying in the UK since August this year.
Upon returning to Singapore on 6 December, she served her stay-home-notice (SHN) at a dedicated SHN facility before developing a fever on 7 December.
The next day, she was then confirmed to have COVID-19.
“Her case was included in our case count on the same day,” MOH said.
All her close contacts, the MOH said, had been placed on quarantine, and had tested negative for COVID-19 infection at the end of their quarantine period.
“As she had been isolated upon arrival in Singapore, we were able to ringfence this case so that there was no further transmission arising from her,” it noted.
Meanwhile, in light of the recent report that the B117 strain is circulating in the UK, the MOH said in its statement that the National Public Health Laboratory is performing viral genomic sequencing for confirmed COVID-19 cases who had arrived from Europe recently.
As a precautionary measure to reduce the risk of spread to Singapore, it announced on Tuesday that all long-term pass holders and short-term visitors with recent travel history to the United Kingdom in the last 14 days will not be permitted to enter Singapore or transit through Singapore, starting 23 December at 11.59pm.
The ban also applies to those who had obtained prior approval for entry into Singapore.
It also said that returning Singapore citizens and permanent residents will be required to undergo a COVID-19 PCR test upon arrival in Singapore at the start of their 14-day SHN.
As of yesterday, Singapore has confirmed 21 new cases of COVID-19 infection, bringing the total number of infection cases to 58,482.