SINGAPORE: On Tuesday (Mar 31), an 86-year-old woman residing at the Lee Ah Mooi Old Age Home in Thomson Lane tested positive for COVID-19 – the first case found in a nursing home in Singapore.
The next day, it became a cluster of 11 cases, including a 102-year-old woman who was a resident at the home.
Seniors and those with chronic conditions are more likely to develop serious illness after being infected by the virus, said the World Health Organization (WHO).
While the number of clusters and local cases have risen in Singapore recently, this is the first group of cases concentrated at a nursing home.
Case 983, a 102-year-old woman, is the oldest COVID-19 patient reported in Singapore so far. She is one of the nine residents infected, all Singaporean women aged between 52 and 102 (Cases 918, 983, 984, 985, 986, 987, 988, 989 and 990).
A staff member, a 42-year-old Indian woman who is a Singapore work pass holder, was identified by the Ministry of Health (MOH) as Case 976. Her family member, Case 973, is a Sri Lankan Singapore work pass holder.
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The 44-year-old man, who tested positive on Apr 1, had a travel history to Sri Lanka, according to MOH. It is unclear when he travelled there.
He works at the Moral Home for the Aged Sick but does not care for patients as part of his work, the ministry added. No cases have been found there, but it has stepped up health monitoring for its residents and staff, authorities said.
The man has not been at work since experiencing symptoms, said the Agency for Integrated Care (AIC), which coordinates aged care services in Singapore.
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The new cluster at Lee Ah Mooi was announced as Singapore reported on Wednesday its highest daily surge of 74 cases, bringing the total number of cases to 1,000.
Of those, 245 have fully recovered from the infection and have been discharged. Of the 461 cases who are still in hospital, most are stable or improving, while 24 are in critical condition in the intensive care unit.
ALL LEE AH MOOI RESIDENTS TO BE TESTED
On Thursday, Lee Ah Mooi said that all its residents will be tested and their health “closely monitored”. Its premises at both Thomson Lane and Silat Avenue will be deep cleaned, it said in a Facebook post.
“Since the incident, we have taken immediate action to suspend all visits to our homes,” said Mr Then Kim Yuan, the home’s administrator.
“Unwell residents who are reviewed immediately and sent to hospital if required. We have also engaged an external company to sanitise our homes with deep cleaning.”
When CNA visited the home at Thomson Lane on Thursday, a sign at its gate read “Due to unexpected incident, no visitors are allowed from today (31/3/2020) till further notice”.
AIC said that all staff members at Lee Ah Mooi at Thomson Lane have been placed on quarantine and authorities are working to help them with manpower support, so that the residents will not be affected.
The cases there prompted the agency and MOH to suspend all visits to nursing homes until Apr 30.
Nursing homes will implement safe distancing for all residents, and remind all employees who are unwell not to turn up for work, in addition to other precautions taken earlier.
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Researchers from Britain found that age was a key determining factor in serious infections, with nearly one in five over the age of 80 requiring hospitalisation, compared to around 1 per cent among people under 30.
Director of medical services at MOH Kenneth Mak had stressed on Tuesday that seniors are vulnerable to the virus and encouraged those who live with them to be especially cautious.
“Raise your hygiene standards when you interact with them. If you are ill, please don’t get near your seniors. If they don’t stay with you, don’t visit them. This is a way to protect the seniors at home,” he said.