Hougang HDB Residents Get Free Tuberculosis Screening, MOH Looking For Possible Cases

Tuberculosis (TB) is an infectious disease which spreads through airborne droplets. If that sounds like Covid-19 or the flu — well, it’s very treatable these days and we haven’t had an outbreak since the 1970s.

When 4 residents of a block in Hougang all developed the illness despite living in different units, the Ministry of Health (MOH) saw a potential concern.

As such, MOH will offer voluntary TB testing to all residents of the affected block, they said on Saturday (24 Oct).

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Tests will be free.

MOH offers free tuberculosis tests to Hougang block residents

The affected block, Block 174D Hougang Ave 1, saw 4 separate cases of TB — diagnosed between Jan 2018 and Jun 2020.

All of them lived in different units, MOH said, and some of them don’t live at the block anymore.

As a precaution, the Tuberculosis Control Unit (TBCU) and National Centre for Infectious Diseases (NCID) will conduct house visits to all residents of the affected block between 25-27 Oct.

During the house visits, residents will be encouraged to go for the free tests at the TBCU in Moulmein Road. They’ll also be able to book a screening appointment.

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If you’re not at home while TBCU and NCID are visiting, you can call TBCU to make an appointment to get screened.

Through the screenings, MOH can find any undiagnosed TB cases.

Infected TB cases don’t know each other

MOH found that the only commonality between the 4 residents was that they lived in the same block. None of them knew or interacted with each other.

However, genetic sequencing revealed that all 4 cases had similar genetic make-up.

MOH said that TB isn’t spread through contact of infected items or surfaced — only through close contact with infectious individuals.

Cases not a public health risk

All 4 individuals had treatment once they were diagnosed, and aren’t a public health risk.

The tests are to find out if anyone has latent TB, although they aren’t infectious and have no symptoms.

If anyone has active TB, they’ll be treated straight away with anti-TB drugs. You can read more about TB here.

So this really is just a precautionary measure and not indicative of any panic.

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Featured image adapted from Google Maps and Mapio.