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Two imported cases in Singapore test 'preliminarily positive' for Omicron COVID-19 variant: MOH

Two imported cases in Singapore test 'preliminarily positive' for Omicron COVID-19 variant: MOH

File photo: People in the transit hall of Changi Airport, Singapore on Sep 3, 2021. (Photo: AFP/Roslan Rahman)

SINGAPORE: Two passengers who arrived in Singapore from South Africa on a Singapore Airlines (SIA) flight have tested "preliminarily positive" for the Omicron COVID-19 variant, the Ministry of Health (MOH) said on Thursday (Dec 2).

"Both cases were isolated upon arrival in Singapore on Dec 1, and had not interacted in the community," said the ministry.

"There is currently no evidence of any community transmission from these cases."

The two cases are recovering in isolation wards at the National Centre for Infectious Diseases (NCID). Both of them are fully vaccinated and have "mild symptoms of cough and scratchy throat", added MOH.

Both cases arrived in Singapore from Johannesburg on board SQ479 on Wednesday.

Case 271487 is a 44-year-old Singapore permanent resident who arrived in Singapore from Mozambique, transiting through Johannesburg. His pre-departure test in Mozambique on Nov 29 was negative for COVID-19, said MOH.

Case 271598 is a 41-year-old Singaporean woman who arrived from South Africa. Her pre-departure test in Johannesburg on Nov 29 was negative for COVID-19.

They had undergone a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test upon arrival in Singapore, and were immediately taken to a stay-home notice dedicated facility while waiting for their test results, said MOH. Upon confirmation of COVID-19 infection, they were taken to NCID.

"Their PCR test results have revealed the presence of S-gene Target Failure which may be associated with the Omicron variant. The National Public Health Laboratory is conducting whole genome sequencing to confirm the variant," said the Health Ministry.

Since 11.59pm on Nov 27, all long-term pass holders and short-term visitors with travel history in the past 14 days to Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe have not been allowed to enter or transit in Singapore.


Contact tracing is ongoing and all 19 other passengers who were on the same flight have tested negative for COVID-19, said MOH.

The passengers were quarantined on arrival and are serving their stay-home notices at designated facilities. They are also "subjected to a testing regime", including an on-arrival PCR test and a stay-home notice exit PCR test.

"Other close contacts of these cases, if any, will be placed on 10-day quarantine at designated facilities and undergo PCR tests at the start and end of their quarantine," said the Health Ministry.

All patients suspected or confirmed to be infected with the Omicron variant will be taken to NCID for isolation and clinical management. They will not be allowed to undergo home recovery.

"It is important for everyone to continue to play their part and remain vigilant to mitigate the spread of COVID-19," said MOH.

SIA said in response to CNA's queries that it is unable to reveal any information about the passengers and crew members due to confidentiality reasons.

It said that the pilots and crew who were on flight SQ479 have undergone COVID-19 tests, and are in self-isolation, in accordance with the guidance from the authorities.

"SIA will assist the health authorities in all necessary contact tracing efforts," it said.


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Source: CNA/ic/aj(mi)