SINGAPORE, June 20 — About 230 current and former residents of Block 203 on Ang Mo Kio Avenue 3 have been screened for tuberculosis (TB) as of yesterday, as on-site screening drew to a close.
Of those who were screened on-site, nine reported having a cough for more than three weeks, and have been referred to the Tuberculosis Control Unit for follow-up and tests,” the Ministry of Health (MOH) said in an update on Sunday night.
The 350-plus residents of the 160-unit public housing block were offered free screening for TB at the foot of their block last Thursday, after it was revealed that there was a cluster of six multi-drug resistant TB cases in the block, with some of the cases dating back to 2012.
The MOH said yesterday that those screened would be notified of their results within the next two weeks.
As latent TB infection — the non-infectious stage of TB where there are no symptoms — is not uncommon in the Singapore population, the ministry expects to detect some cases of latent TB from the screening exercise, it said.
“These may not necessarily be related to the cluster as there is a baseline prevalence of latent TB among our population from past exposure to TB cases which may have occurred many years ago,” the ministry added.
Residents current and former (those who lived in the block from July 2011) who missed the on-site screening will be screened for free at any Sata clinic until the end of the month.
After June 30, those wishing to be screened may make an appointment at the Tuberculosis Control Unit at Moulmein Road.
The MOH said another 13 young residents aged five and below have been given appointments for screening at the Tuberculosis Control Unit.
MOH public health officers and grassroots leaders have also personally engaged more than 80 per cent of the households by going door-to-door.
“We encourage residents and former residents to continue to come forward for screening,” the ministry said.
The screenings are not mandatory, and were offered as a “precautionary measure” because the Ang Mo Kio cluster was an “unusual” one, where three of the cases did not have close contact with the other cases.
Contact-tracing for TB cases is usually limited to those with prolonged and close contact with infected patients. How the disease spread for some of the cases has not been determined, but TODAY reported last Friday that the first patient in the Ang Mo Kio cluster was part of a similar case that involved three cybercafes in Parklane in 2012.
All six individuals in the Ang Mo Kio cluster are no longer infectious and do not pose a public health risk. — TODAY