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10 COVID-19 cases identified at Hougang HDB block, including 1 new infection picked up from mandatory testing

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Block 506 Hougang Ave 8 HDB COVID-19 testing (7)
A COVID-19 swabbing station at Block 506 Hougang Ave 8 on May 21, 2021. (Photo: Jeremy Long)

(Updated: )

SINGAPORE: The Ministry of Health (MOH) has identified 10 COVID-19 cases from four different households living in Block 506 Hougang Avenue 8 – one of which was detected from a mandatory testing exercise for residents.

A total of 407 residents and visitors of the block were tested on Friday and Saturday, with 126 test results still pending, said MOH and the Ministry of National Development (MND) in a joint release on Sunday (May 23).

They added that the positive cases were “largely” people under quarantine who turned positive for the virus.

READ: COVID-19 – 27 new community cases and 1 new death; mandatory testing for residents of Hougang HDB block

“This means that they have been isolated early and ring-fenced, and not likely to be moving around while being infectious. Nevertheless, MOH took all the necessary public health measures to prevent any further spread to the community,” the two ministries said.

The four units with confirmed cases are in the same stack and the authorities said that their initial assessment is that “airborne transmission along the stack is highly unlikely”.

Epidemiological investigations are ongoing to determine linkages and the source of transmission, they added.

In the meantime, authorities said they “are not taking any chances”.

READ: JEM and Westgate malls to be closed for 2 weeks amid ‘likely ongoing’ COVID-19 transmission: MOH

The National Environment Agency (NEA) has worked with the town council (TC) to step up cleaning measures to disinfect the block.

“At the same time, we are casting our surveillance net as wide as possible, including administering PCR tests for the whole block,” they said.

The ministries added that so far, this is the only Housing & Development Board (HDB) block in Singapore with infected cases seen in more than two households.

STEPPED UP MEASURES

Block-wide testing is also being carried out at Block 559 Pasir Ris Street 51. 

The ministries added that NEA cleaning and disinfection works for the Hougang block and the Pasir Ris block were completed on Friday and Saturday respectively.

Particular attention was paid to frequently touched areas, such as lift surfaces, lift buttons, handrails, letterboxes, amongst others, they said.

“As a precautionary measure, NEA had also worked with the TCs to expand the scope of disinfection to include amenities in the vicinity that could be used by residents, such as playground and central refuse chute.”

RESIDENTS NOT UNDER QUARANTINE

The authorities added that the residents of these two blocks are being tested as a precaution, and residents are not under quarantine.

“They are allowed to leave their homes and continue with activities allowed under the prevailing Phase 2 (Heightened Alert) measures.”

The delivery of goods and services to these blocks can still carry on with appropriate safe management measures and mask-wearing.

“We strongly urge service providers to continue to extend their services to the residents and support our fellow Singaporeans,” the ministries said.

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