Ng Teng Fong General Hospital staff's respiratory symptoms likely caused by Rhinovirus infection, not Covid-19

Rhinovirus is a common virus and a predominant cause of the common cold.

Julia Yeo | May 13, 2021, 05:48 PM

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Ng Teng Fong General Hospital has shared some clarifications regarding the case involving its operating theatre technician (Case 63073), who tested serologically positive for Covid-19 on May 10.

Tested negative for Covid-19 when he visited clinic on Apr. 14

According to the hospital, Case 63073 returned to Singapore on Jan. 10, 2021 after spending a year in Malaysia, and served his Stay-Home-Notice (SHN) until Jan. 24.

He tested negative for Covid-19 on Jan. 23, at the end of his 14-day SHN.

When he began exhibiting flu-like symptoms, he immediately visited the hospital's staff clinic on Apr. 14 and was swabbed, the hospital added.

His result came back negative, and was given three days of medical leave to rest.

Current symptoms likely caused by Rhinovirus infection rather than Covid-19

He subsequently developed a cough on Apr. 21, and his intermittent mild symptoms worsened. He did not seek medical treatment immediately, the Ministry of Health (MOH) noted in its daily report on May 11.

He visited the staff clinic again on May 10, 2021, where he tested positive for Covid-19 after another test.

He was also tested for other common viruses which cause Acute Respiratory Illness (ARI) and was found positive for Rhinovirus.

Rhinovirus is a common virus and a predominant cause of the common cold.

MOH also shared in its daily report that Case 63073's Ct value was very high, which is indicative of a low viral load, and his serology test result came back positive.

"His positive serology result and high CT values strongly suggest he has a low viral load and could be intermittently shedding minute fragments of the virus RNA from a past infection which is no longer transmissible nor infective to others," the hospital's spokesperson addressed in the clarification. This was also stated in MOH's report on May 11.

"The clinical assessment is that his current symptoms are caused by a Rhinovirus infection," the spokesperson added.

All patients who came into contact with case have tested negative for Covid-19

As an immediate precaution, all areas that the staff had been in, including operating theatres, were disinfected using Ultraviolet-C (UVC) lamps.

The hospital has also swabbed all the patients that Case 63073 had came into contact with, and their results are negative.

His household contacts have also been swabbed, and their results are pending.

"Our colleague is recovering well and we will continue to support him and his family. The safety of our patients and staff is paramount and we will do our utmost to care for them," the statement wrote.

There has been no impact to clinical services and scheduled operations are proceeding as per normal, the hospital said.

"We have since reinforced the importance of infection control, vigilance in adhering to safety measures and taking personal responsibility to seek medical treatment and stay home if unwell, to all our staff," the hospital added.

Top image via HOK