2 Bukit Merah Blocks & Market To Be Screened For Tuberculosis After More Cases Detected

Tuberculosis Screening Will Affect 2 Bukit Merah Blocks & ABC Brickworks Market: MOH

In 2022, seven tuberculosis (TB) cases were detected at an HDB block in Bukit Merah and the authorities swung into action.

They offered free TB screening and close to 200 cases were found.

Almost two years after the first cases emerged, more have unfortunately been uncovered.

Thus, residents and workers of two Bukit Merah blocks and a market will undergo an extensive round of screening.

Source: Google Maps

2 Bukit Merah blocks & market will be screened for tuberculosis

In a press release on Friday (5 Jan), the Ministry of Health (MOH) said the TB screening will be for those living and working at Block 1 and Block 3 Jalan Bukit Merah.

This includes the Thong Kheng Seniors Activity Centre@Queenstown, which is located in Block 3.

Source: Google Maps

The screening will also affect the nearby ABC Brickworks Market and Food Centre.

Source: Google Maps

About 3,000 people are estimated to undergo screening this time round.

Bukit Merah tuberculosis screening from 11-15 Jan, mandatory for some

According to MOH, the screening will take place from 11 to 15 Jan. It will be free of charge.

Under the Infectious Diseases Act, the screening will be mandatory for the following groups of people:

  1. residents, stallholders, shop owners and employees at Blocks 1 and 3
  2. stallholders and employees at ABC Brickworks
  3. clients and staff who attend the Thong Kheng Seniors Activity Centre

For residents, mobile teams will be conducting the screening at their homes from 11 to 13 Jan.

Everyone else should head over to the open-air carpark adjacent to Block 2 from 11 to 15 Jan.

Residents unable to be screened at home can request to do so at the screening stations.

Voluntary screening also offered

Those who don’t fall under the mandatory screening categories may also decide to get themselves screened.

Free voluntary screening will be offered to the following people:

  1. frequent visitors to the two blocks and/or market between November 2021 and January 2024. They must have spent a cumulative total of more than 12 hours per month at one or more of these locations.
  2. residents and/or workers at Block 2 who did not undergo TB screening during the previous mass screening exercise from May to August 2022
  3. former residents and tenants of Blocks 1 and 3
  4. teachers and students at PCF Sparkletots@Queenstown in Block 3

These individuals can make a screening appointment at https://go.gov.sg/tbs to be screened at the carpark of Block 2 Jalan Bukit Merah from 14 to 15 Jan.

Screening is via appointment only, and priority will be given to those who require mandatory screening.

Members of the public should also note that the risk of transmission to non-close contacts of a TB case is very low.

Thus, screening is not necessary for people who have only occasionally visited the blocks and/or market or the vicinity.

Further screening may be needed, including X-ray

During the screening, a blood test will be administered to detect latent TB infection.

Those who test positive must undergo additional screenings, which may include a chest X-ray, clinic review and other tests like sputum testing.

Source: Shin Min Daily News on Facebook

If the diagnosis is confirmed, they’ll be offered preventive treatment to reduce their risk of developing active TB disease in the future.

If an active TB disease is diagnosed, treatment and contact tracing will commence promptly.

212 TB cases detected in 2022 screening

The latest round of TB screening comes after seven TB cases were detected among residents of Block 2 Jalan Bukit Merah in March 2022.

Voluntary TB screening was offered in May 2022, and about 30% of those screened tested positive for latent TB infection. The screening was thus extended and made mandatory in June 2022.

Roughly 170 People At Bukit Merah Block Positive For TB, Screening Extended Till 25 Jun

Eventually, a total of 197 cases of latent TB infection and 15 cases of active TB were uncovered, which were all treated.

10 additional cases found

Unfortunately, the story didn’t end there. 10 additional active TB cases were found between February 2022 and July 2023, MOH said.

These cases comprised:

  1. six who were frequent patrons of ABC Brickworks market
  2. 1 person who worked at the market
  3. 2 residents of Block 1
  4. 1 resident of Block 2

Genetic analysis of the cases was carried out, and it revealed that all 10 cases had a similar genetic make-up as the earlier cases in Block 2.

Thus, the results suggested that the Block 2 cases had possibly spread to the immediate vicinity.

Additionally, none of the cases had any common links besides the market and its immediate vicinity. They didn’t identify one another as close contacts either.

MOH was notified in November 2023, which led to the upcoming mass screening.

Watch out for TB symptoms

According to MOH, TB disease symptoms include:

  • Persistent cough lasting three weeks or longer
  • Low-grade fever
  • Night sweats
  • Fatigue
  • Weight loss
  • Chest pain

Transmissions usually occur via close and prolonged contact with an infectious individual. TB is reportedly endemic in Singapore, is curable, and its spread is preventable.

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