On Sunday (9 May), Singapore recorded 10 new community cases of COVID-19, of which four tested “preliminary positive” for the double mutant B1617 variant – which was first detected in India.
These four cases involved a Grab private hire, a property risk assessment personnel, a cleaner and an auxiliary police officer at Changi Airport Terminal 3.
The Ministry of Health (MOH) said that these individuals are pending further confirmatory tests.
As of 3 May, there have been 29 local cases of COVID-19 infected with variants detected in other countries, MOH said last week.
“The new variant strains have higher attack rates, they are more infectious, they are causing larger clusters than before,” said Education Minister Lawrence Wong, who co-chairs the COVID-19 multi-ministry task force.
He added, “Due to the new variants, (the cases) are more infectious and larger clusters are forming.”
As for the four new local cases with B1617 variant identified on Sunday, the first is a 38-year-old Singaporean male who works as a private hire car driver with Grab and is not linked to previous cases.
Referred to as Case 62969, the man has not gone to work since the onset of symptoms, said MOH. On 7 May, he came down with a fever and cough. He went to a general practitioner clinic on the very same day to seek treatment and was tested for COVID-19.
On the next day, his test result came back positive and he was taken in an ambulance to Alexandra Hospital. His serological test result is negative.
MOH also noted that the man lives with his girlfriend, a short-term visit pass holder, who arrived from Vietnam on 12 April. She served her stay-home notice at a dedicated facility until April 26.
She was tested for the virus on 25 April and her result came out negative.
Property risk assessment personnel
The second case is a Singaporean woman who works as a risk assessment personnel at Lendlease, and is not linked to previous cases.
The 40-year-old woman is identified as Case 62998 and has been working from home since 30 April.
MOH said she developed a fever on 7 May and went to a general practitioner clinic on the same day, where she was tested for COVID-19.
Her result came back positive the following day and she was sent to Khoo Teck Puat Hospital via an ambulance. Her serological test result is negative.
Cleaner at Changi Airport
Case 62971 is a 51-year-old work permit holder who is working as a cleaner at Changi Airport Terminal 3, employed by Ramky Cleantech Services.
She is a colleague of Case 62873 – an 88-year-old cleaner employed by Ramky Cleantech Services and stationed at Terminal 3 as well.
The last time the 51-year-old woman went to work was on 3 May. During a rostered routine testing on 5 May, her pooled test rest came back “inconclusive” and she was tested again on 7 May.
On the same day, she was also contacted by MOH and placed on phone surveillance given that she was identified as a colleague of Case 62873.
On the night of 7 May, she developed a cough and a headache and sought medical treatment at a polyclinic the next day. Her test result came back positive for COVID-19 on the same day and she was transferred to Gleneagles Hospital via an ambulance.
Her earlier tests from rostered routine testing – the last being on 21 April – all came out negative for the coronavirus. Her serology test result is negative.
Auxiliary police officer at Changi Airport
The fourth case identified with the B1617 variant is a 57-year-old Singaporean auxiliary police officer who is employed by Certis Cisco and works at Changi Airport Terminal 3.
The man’s job entails maintaining crowd control and checking travellers’ documents and he has not gone to work since the onset of symptoms, MOH noted.
The man developed a cough on 7 May and went to a general practitioner clinic to seek medical treatment, where he was tested for COVID-19.
The next day, his test result came back positive for COVID-19 and he was taken in an ambulance to Alexandra Hospital.
His earlier tests from rostered routine testing – the last done on 2 May – were all negative. His serological test result is negative.
The man has completed his full COVID-19 vaccination, with the first dose received on 15 February and the second on 8 March.
Netizens voice concerns over the detection of B1617 variant in Singapore
On social media, online users have expressed their concerns over the emergence of B1617 double mutant variant in Singapore. Penning their thoughts in the Facebook page of Channel News Asia, they said that this news is “worrying” and the public is afraid of the high number of community cases being reported on a daily basis.
One user noted that the Government should look into its own mistakes for allowing the B1617 variant to enter Singapore by opening the borders, instead of blaming the people.
One user expressed that the case of a Grab driver tested positive with the double mutant variant is “seriously a community case”. This is because he was in close contact with many passengers before he showed symptoms for the illness, and he could have gotten it from one of his passengers. This means that there are a lot more B1617 variant in the country.
Others blamed the Government and its ministers for allowing travellers from high-risk countries, especially India, to come into Singapore. They explained that the authorities did not take seriously the advices raised by the public on closing the borders sooner, resulting in more community cases here.
One user wrote: “Ministers don’t travel in public transport and take MRT/Grab, why would they care. Now citizens/people gotten Covid unnecessary due to Gov mishandling”.
One user pointed out that those who made the decision to keep the borders open for a long time should “be accountable and step down”.
“Stop taking millions of dollars salary make big mistake an still continue to take power and make stupid mistakes,” the user wrote.