Sunday, 25 Jul 2021

30 fishmongers, assistants tested positive for Covid-19: Ong Ye Kung

SINGAPORE – Out of 1,120 fishmongers and assistants who were tested over the weekend, 30 were found to be Covid-19 positive, said Health Minister Ong Ye Kung on Tuesday (July 20).

Speaking during a virtual press conference by the multi-ministry task force on Covid-19, Mr Ong shared that 28 markets and food centres have been linked to the Jurong Fishery Port cluster so far, with a preliminary 184 new community Covid-19 cases expected to be announced today.

The task force announced that Singapore would revert to phase 2 restrictions from July 22 to Aug 18, with tightened measures such as no dining in. Social gatherings will be limited to two people as well.

The measures are to stem the recent spike in community cases. 

“It was a nervous weekend, because we knew that hundreds and thousands of fishmongers and their assistants who visited the Jurong Fishery Port may be infected, and then went on the community to sell their fish… and because fish is in short supply, many shoppers, patrons and residents actually went to queued up for fish,” noted Mr Ong.

He also shared that the National Environment Agency was mobilised on Sunday to tell fishmongers to cease selling fish, and issue health risk warnings to get tested and isolate themselves.

With at least one infected resident per market, testing has been widened to more people in the community , such as residents living in the blocks around the markets.

They have been advised to minimise social interaction and stay home, especially if they have unvaccinated seniors at home. This is to prevent spillover to the larger community.

Unlike the KTV cluster, which broke out last week and “spread among a younger population and certain network of people”, Mr Ong said this wave of infections from the fishery port affects the markets, food centres and a much wider spectrum of the population, especially seniors. 

“The porous nature of our food centres and hawker centres also increases the risk of cryptic and silent transmission that is hard to detect, hence after thinking long and hard, we decided we have to revert to phase 2 (heightened alert),” he said.

“The silver lining is that the momentum of increase has slowed down,” he said. There were 60 locally transmitted cases reported on July 17, 88 on July 18 and 163 community cases on July 19.

“The good thing is that day by day, we see the infection numbers decaying. I think we will continue to see a downward trajectory, so the cluster is stablilising,” said Mr Ong.

He added of the preliminary 184 new local cases on Tuesday, 85 or 46 per cent of the cases were isolated before detection.

“So tomorrow, when you see the numbers go up, it means these cases were already quarantined and isolated…they are not passing (the virus) to others when they develop symptoms, so they are much less of a risk.”

“As you see that happening, you should also see us turning the corner with the numbers coming down, that’s how the trajectory often behaves,” he added.

Read next: What you need to know about Singapore’s Covid-19 rules from July 22

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