1 Imported Case Confirmed With UK Covid-19 Strain, 11 Others Preliminarily Positive

Singapore’s seemingly smooth path towards Phase 3 of reopening was thwarted yesterday (23 Dec) when news surfaced of the new Covid-19 strain from the United Kingdom (UK) reaching our shores.

In an update last night, the Ministry of Health (MOH) confirmed 1 such case here.

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The patient — a 17-year-old student who had returned from the UK and tested positive for the virus on 8 Dec.

More thorough checks on cases from Europe

Ever since the UK reported the circulation of B117, a more contagious Covid-19 strain, authorities have been taking cautionary steps in Singapore.

In fact, according to MOH,

(T)he National Public Health Laboratory is performing viral genomic sequencing for confirmed COVID-19 cases who had arrived from Europe recently.

Between 17 Nov and 17 Dec, they detected 31 Covid-19 cases among arriving travellers from Europe. Here’s the breakdown of their test results:

  • 1 (Case no. 58504) carries the B117 strain
  • 11 test preliminarily positive for the new strain, pending confirmation
  • 12 others test negative for B117
  • 5 have low viral load & can’t be sequenced

Since all the above cases had been serving their Stay-Home Notices (SHNs), MOH claims that, “There is currently no evidence that the B117 strain is circulating in the community.”

All the patients’ close contacts have also been quarantined.

Student Singapore’s 1st case of new UK Covid-19 strain

MOH continued to elaborate that Case 58504 is a 17-year-old female Singaporean who had arrived here on 6 Dec. She had been studying in the UK since Aug this year.

Upon her return, she served her SHN at a dedicated facility.

She only began to show signs of fever the next day (7 Dec), and tested positive for Covid-19 the day after (8 Dec).

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Thankfully, all her close contacts who have served their mandatory 14-day quarantine have tested negative for the virus.

From SHN to quarantining close contacts, prompt action has prevented the new strain from spreading into the community.

Authorities taking steps to prevent spread

Besides the usual protocol and further tests, Singapore is also taking greater precautionary measures in light of the new B117 strain.

From 11.59pm on 23 Dec, authorities began banning entry to all long-term pass holders and short-term visitors with recent travel history to the UK.

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Returning citizens and PRs meanwhile have to take a Covid-19 PCR test upon arrival.

Let’s hope that these measures will suffice for now, as we approach Phase 3 in just a few days. If ever the need arises to take any extra steps within the community, let’s do our part to help, so Singapore will continue the good progress we’ve made in curbing Covid-19 infections.

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Featured image adapted from South China Morning Post.