Covid-19: 5 foreign worker dormitory clusters might have stemmed from Mustafa Centre cluster

Singapore now has a total of 1,910 Covid-19 cases.

Syahindah Ishak | April 09, 2020, 08:26 PM

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On Thursday (Apr. 9), the Ministry of Health (MOH) announced 287 new Covid-19 cases.

This brings the total number of cases in Singapore to 1,910.

Of the new cases today, over 200 are related to foreign workers residing in dormitories.

Links between seven clusters

Speaking at a press conference on Apr. 9, MOH's Director of Medical Science, Kenneth Mak, revealed that contact tracing efforts have established links between these seven clusters:

  1. Mustafa Centre
  2. Project Glory Construction Site
  3. S11 Dormitory @ Punggol
  4. Tampines Dormitory
  5. Toh Guan Dormitory
  6. Sungei Tengah Lodge
  7. Cochrane Lodge II

As of Apr. 8, the total number of cases in these clusters, excluding the ones from Mustafa, is 224.

Started with Mustafa cluster

Mak explained that the cases began with the Mustafa cluster after a number of employees in the mall tested positive for Covid-19.

"We believe that the (foreign) workers had visited Mustafa, and they subsequently transmitted the infection to their co-workers, either at the Project Glory construction site or to other residents within the dormitories that they lived in," said Mak.

It is believed that the transmissions most likely occurred through close contact, such as during mealtimes or the physical proximity of workers at the construction site.

They then subsequently transmitted the virus to friends and colleagues within their dormitories through social activities.

Continued to work despite having mild symptoms

National Development Minister Lawrence Wong added that many of the workers had very mild symptoms and thus, they continued to work.

He stated:

"That's why there was a delay in picking them up. So it's very likely that the virus spread had been going around for some time in the dormitories, and we are now seeing all the indicators of it."

He said that Singapore is currently dealing with two separate infections — within the foreign worker dormitories, where the numbers are rising sharply, and within the general population, where the numbers are more stable now.

MOH working with MOM, SPF, MINDEF and SAF

With regard to the dormitory clusters, MOH has been working very closely with the joint task force that's led by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), the Singapore Police Force (SPF), Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) and the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF).

MOH has set-up medical posts in the dormitories where medical personnel can look after workers as they present with symptoms.

In addition, MOH is also performing an active case finding to look for workers who are not well and bring them down for further assessment if necessary.

When symptomatic workers are identified, they would be immediately isolated and prevented from mixing with other workers in the dormitory.

If they test positive for Covid-19, they will be treated at a hospital or community isolation facility.

Those who are not tested positive but remain symptomatic they will be kept separated so as to prevent any infection from spreading to other workers in the dormitory.

Top images from Google Maps & MOM/FB.