S'pore confirms first Covid-19 case with B117, the more contagious UK strain

Another variant.

Belmont Lay | December 24, 2020, 03:55 AM

Singapore confirmed on Dec. 23, 2020, its first case of B117 infection, a new variant of the Covid-19 novel coronavirus currently spreading rapidly in the UK.

The case (Case 58504) is a 17-year-old Singaporean girl (Case 58504) who had been studying in the UK since August.

She had returned to Singapore on Dec. 6 and served a stay-home notice at a dedicated facility.

The teenager developed a fever on Dec. 7.

She was confirmed to have Covid-19 on Dec. 8, and her case was included in the case count on the same day.

Those tested preliminarily positive

A total of 11 others have tested preliminarily positive for the B117 strain here.

However, all of the girl's close contacts were quarantined and had tested negative for Covid-19 when their quarantine came to an end.

MOH said the authorities were able to ringfence this case to prevent further transmission arising from her.

She had been isolated upon her arrival here.

The ministry added that there is currently no evidence that the B117 strain is circulating in the Singapore community.

Details were revealed by the Ministry of Health (MOH) in a press release.

31 Covid-19 cases from Europe tested more thoroughly

The National Public Health Laboratory is performing viral genomic sequencing for the new B117 strain for 31 Covid-19 cases, who had arrived from Europe recently, between Nov. 17 and Dec. 17.

They were confirmed to be infected in December.

The 17-year-old girl was found to carry B117 the strain amongst them, while 12 were not infected with the new strain.

Five other samples cannot be sequenced due to their low viral load, MOH said.

MOH added that confirmatory results for the 11 cases who have tested preliminarily positive for the B117 strain are pending.

Two cases have not been tested so far.

Background on B117

The B117 variant is said to be up to 70 per cent more transmissible than the previously dominant strain in the UK.

But it is not the first of the virus to emerge.

All 31 cases had been placed on 14-day stay-home notice at dedicated facilities or isolated upon arrival in Singapore, and their close contacts had been quarantined earlier.

B117 stops people from the UK from coming in

B117 has acquired a relatively high number of 23 mutations in its genetic code, with some potentially affecting the ability of the virus to spread.

The strain has been detected in Australia, Italy, and the Netherlands.

Countries around the world, including Singapore, have banned flights and travellers from the UK.

No entry into Singapore

Singapore’s Covid-19 multi-ministry taskforce announced on Dec. 22, from 11.59pm on Dec. 23, all long-term pass holders and short-term visitors with recent travel history to the UK within the last 14 days will not be allowed entry into Singapore, or transit through here.

Returning Singaporeans and permanent residents will be required to undergo a Covid-19 PCR test upon their arrival in Singapore.

This will be done at the start of their 14-day notice.

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