It was reported earlier that a South Asian on Dependant Pass posted on her Facebook page, claiming that she had contracted COVID-19 in Changi Airport when she arrived in Singapore (‘DBS responds to TISG article, saying person on Dependant Pass only a contract staff for 7 mths‘, 25 May).
Ms Sonal Wadde said she arrived in Singapore via Nepal after staying there for 15 days. She said she “got infected in SG most probably on (sic) Changi Airport”. She said her pre-departure COVID-19 test as well as the on-arrival test were negative. She said she felt “more secure” back home in India.
Yesterday (28 May), the Ministry of Health (MOH) refuted her assertion. MOH said that its investigations have confirmed there is no phylogenetic link between her case and those in the Changi Airport cluster.
With regard to her account of the two COVID-19 tests she took being negative, MOH replied, “A negative pre-departure test or on-arrival test does not necessarily mean that a person is free from Covid-19, as one could be incubating the virus from an exposure prior to taking the tests.”
If Ms Wadde has been exposed to the virus prior to taking the COVID-19 tests, she would probably have been infected in Nepal while she was staying there for 2 weeks prior to her departure to Singapore.
Nepal has already closed a number of its border checkpoints with its neighboring countries. Until late April, Nepal had allowed passengers from a neighboring South Asian country to transit through its capital, Kathmandu, a possible loophole for those seeking to get around other countries’ bans on travel from that particular country.
Last month, Nepali Times reported that hotels at Kathmandu were packed with people from a neighboring country. “We have seen an increase in bookings in budget hotels, and occupancy is up even in 2 and 3 star hotels,” said a representative from the Hotel Association of Nepal.
Nepal currently has one of the highest COVID-19 viral reproduction rates in the world. The situation is dire – reports indicate Nepal has a consistently higher number of COVID-19 cases per million than one of its neighboring country. By mid-July, new case numbers could reach 800,000, among a population of 30 million, with a predicted death toll of 40,000, a report said.
A spokesperson from Nepal’s Ministry of Health said, “Our medical infrastructure is in crisis. The oxygen supply-demand gap is huge. We also have no more vaccines.”
Ms Wadde classified as imported case
Meanwhile, the Changi Airport cluster is currently the largest active cluster, with 108 cases linked to it as at Thursday (27 May).
Ms Wadde has been classified as an imported case by MOH. She was tested positive while serving her stay-home notice (SHN) at a dedicated facility.
After Ms Wadde was identified working as a test analyst at DBS Bank in online articles on 25 May, DBS immediately clarified in a Facebook post that she was previously engaged only as a contract employee through a third-party vendor from June to July 2019.
Ms Wadde is currently not a DBS employee, DBS said. “We hold our employees to the highest standards of conduct, both in person and online. DBS is fully committed to supporting the national effort to contain the spread of Covid-19,” it added.
Indeed, it’s a common practice these days that many corporations would hire contract staff through third-party vendors like Wipro, Cognizant, Infosys and others. Many of such outsourcing companies are based in Changi Business Park. It’s not known which third-party vendor DBS Bank has engaged to hire Ms Wadde.
In any case, further checks online found that Ms Wadde’s LinkedIn and Facebook profiles were no longer accessible.