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Worst COVID-19 outbreak hits Singapore

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SINGAPORE is experiencing its worst spate of COVID-19 community infections since last year. Health officials said if contact tracing, testing and quarantine protocols are as effective as before, and people do not let their guard down, the current situation could come under control within the next week or so, experts said.

  The Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH) cluster, with 27 people infected, is the nation’s first hospital cluster and comprises staff and patients. One patient, an 88-year-old woman, has died.

The recent cases show that nobody can relax, not even for a moment, stressed Professor Teo Yik Ying, Dean of the National University of Singapore’s Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health.

“We have seen time and again how countries have had to ramp up restrictions or even reimpose another lockdown after they have opened up, and this scenario could become a reality if we become complacent,” he warned.

“I certainly hope this is just a blip in our management of COVID-19, and it won’t progress on to much further community spread.”

The TTSH cluster – the largest of nine open clusters currently – and the cluster which surfaced at Changi Airport Terminal 1, with eight people infected, so far show that the original index cases had gone on to seed secondary and possibly tertiary transmissions, Prof Teo pointed out.

Nonetheless, the clusters could peter out soon if all steps are followed assiduously.

“If our contact tracing, testing and quarantine protocols are as effective as before, we should see the current blip come under control within the next couple of weeks or so,” Prof Teo predicted.

Singapore has already moved to contain the spread of the virus, acting swiftly to ring-fence the cases, testing aggressively and even enforcing lockdowns in four TTSH wards, for instance.

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