S’pore’s Case 91 Not Tested For Covid-19 At Sengkang General Hospital As She Didn’t Travel To China

S’pore Case 91 Visited Sengkang General Hospital For Respiratory Symptoms

On Tuesday (25 Feb), the Ministry of Health (MOH) announced 1 new Covid-19 case in Singapore —  a 54-year-old who was the wife of a previous case. She reportedly sought treatment at Sengkang General Hospital (SKH) on 26 Jan with some respiratory symptoms.


The authorities were also successful in establishing links between 2 church clusters, via a Chinese New Year gathering that happened along Mei Hwan Drive.


However, Singaporeans couldn’t help but raise questions regarding the new case.

In particular, why authorities didn’t identify her as a Covid-19 case earlier, when she visited SKH.

While MOH didn’t disclose this in the press release, Associate Professor Kenneth Mak shared at a press conference that she apparently did not have travel history to mainland China, a key criteria suspected patients had to fulfil then.

Case 91 didn’t fulfil suspect case criteria at Sengkang General Hospital

An audience member at the press conference on Tuesday (25 Feb) had asked Mr Mak why case 91 did not qualify as a “potential case” despite showing symptoms during her visit to SKH.


In response, Mr Mak explained that even though she showed respiratory symptoms during her visit, she did not fulfil any of MOH’s “suspect case definitions” at the time.

In particular, she had no prior travel history from mainland China, or Hubei province and Wuhan city, where the outbreak started.

Hence, SKH didn’t flag her as a potential case and she didn’t receive the scrutiny a suspect patient otherwise would.

Despite this, Mr Mak stressed that patients with respiratory symptoms of any kind would receive the same advice — to stay at home and avoid mixing with other people.

So if the patient followed the advice, the chances of transmission would be low.

Travel to China a key criteria to fulfil

When case 91 visited SKH, these were the criteria a patient had to fulfil to become a Covid-19 suspect case:


Prior travel to mainland China, and in particular, Wuhan city or Hubei province were clearly key back then.

As for close contact with a Covid-19 patient, MOH first linked cases 8 and 9 to The Life Church and Missions clusters on 8 Feb, more than a week after case 91 visited the SKH.

Hence, they were likely unaware of the links between the three when case 91 visited SKH.

Effort in establishing the links between clusters still commendable

While it is unfortunate that we were unable to detect case 91 at an earlier date, the effort to establish links between the existing clusters is still praiseworthy.

If you’d like a quick rundown of the Covid-19 situation in Singapore, this article summarises the latest updates as of Tuesday (25 Feb).

Though the number of Covid-19 cases in Singapore is showing promising signs of slowing down, we cannot take this lightly and should continue to practice good hygiene.

Featured image adapted from SingHealth.

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