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7 Covid-19 cases, including 5 from TTSH cluster, have B16172 India variant: MOH

SINGAPORE — Seven patients from three Covid-19 community clusters here have a coronavirus variant first detected in India. Five of them with this B16172 variant are part of the cluster at Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH).

7 Covid-19 cases, including 5 from TTSH cluster, have B16172 India variant: MOH

Singapore

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SINGAPORE — Seven patients from three Covid-19 community clusters here have a coronavirus variant first detected in India. Five of them with this B16172 variant are part of the cluster at Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH). 

They include the nurse from Ward 9D, who was the first case detected in Singapore’s largest hospital virus cluster, which now has 40 confirmed cases. 

Another staff member at TTSH who contracted that virus variant was a doctor who attended to patients in the same ward. The other three cases are patients of that ward.

The Ministry of Health (MOH) said on Tuesday (May 4) that the two other cases with the B16172 variant were an Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) officer at Changi Airport and a cleaner deployed at a community care facility at Tuas South. 

The B16172 variant is closely related to the B1617 variant, which is believed to be fuelling a deadly wave of infections in India. 

The Singaporean ICA officer was confirmed to be infected last Tuesday and that cluster has 11 infections. 

The cluster involving the Vietnamese cleaner at the Tuas South facility, who was confirmed to have contracted Covid-19 last Wednesday, has four people infected. 

MOH said that the viruses in each cluster were “phylogenetically distinct”, suggesting that the clusters were not linked to one another. 

Overall, there have been 60 new Covid-19 cases in the wider community this past week.

As of Monday, there were also:

  • Eight cases here with the B1351 variant from South Africa

  • Seven cases with the B117 United Kingdom variant

  • Three cases with the P1 Brazil variant

  • Three cases with the B16171 India variant

  • One with the B1525 variant, also detected in the United Kingdom

In addition, there were four cases of re-infection with the B1351 South African variant, MOH said. 

Associate Professor Kenneth Mak, the ministry’s director of medical services, told reporters on Tuesday that the presence of these viral variants in the community affirmed Singapore’s strategy to vaccinate health workers and prioritise inoculations for older Singaporeans. 

“Had we not done so, the Tan Tock Seng (Hospital) cluster would have been significantly larger… and the likelihood of that cluster getting out of control that much greater.” 

He added that the vaccine seemed to have done “relatively well” against the variant found in the TTSH cluster.

Assoc Prof Mak emphasised again the importance for everyone to be vaccinated. 

Of the 40 cases in the TTSH cluster, eight vaccinated patients showed no or very mild symptoms, and none needed oxygen therapy. Seven who were not vaccinated needed oxygen, he said. 

MOH added that all necessary public health actions had been taken promptly to isolate and ringfence all cases. 

“Given the possible increased transmissibility of the new virus variants, it is necessary to take tighter measures reflective of the heightened alert to mitigate the risk of further transmission in Singapore.”

Related topics

Covid-19 coronavirus MOH variant India TTSH Tan Tock Seng Hospital

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