Singapore begins Mandatory COVID-19 testing for residents of HDB Housing Units where positive cases were reported

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A resident arrives for COVID-19 testing at Block 506 Hougang Ave 8 on May 21, 2021. (Photo- Jeremy Long)
A resident arrives for COVID-19 testing at Block 506 Hougang Ave 8 on May 21, 2021. (Photo- Jeremy Long)
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Residents from more than 100 units will be tested on Friday and Saturday.

SINGAPORE: All residents living in Block 506 Hougang Ave 8 will be tested for COVID-19, after investigations found that “a few” positive cases live there, the Ministry of Health (MOH) said late on Thursday (May 20) night.

MOH did not say how many cases tested positive.

The ministry said that the move was a “precautionary measure”. The residents will be tested at the void deck of the block over two days, beginning at 1pm on Friday.

An MOH notice pasted at the void deck of Block 506 Hougang Avenue 8 on May 21, 2021. (Photo- Jeremy Long)
An MOH notice pasted at the void deck of Block 506 Hougang Avenue 8 on May 21, 2021. (Photo- Jeremy Long)

“We have distributed leaflets to affected residents and will also send them an SMS notification. Residents of 506 Hougang Avenue 8 are also advised to monitor their health closely and consult a doctor immediately if they feel unwell,” said the ministry.

“NOT A LARGE OUTBREAK”: GERALD GIAM

On Friday, Member of Parliament (MP) Gerald Giam (WP-Aljunied) was at the block, which is in his ward. Speaking to reporters, he emphasised that the swabbing was a precautionary measure.

COVID-19 testing is carried out for residents of Block 506 Hougang Ave 8 on May 21, 2021. (Photo- Jeremy Long)
COVID-19 testing is carried out for residents of Block 506 Hougang Ave 8 on May 21, 2021. (Photo- Jeremy Long)

While he said he could not reveal the number of cases, he said it was “not a large outbreak that’s happened here”.

“It’s a small number of cases, so there’s no need for the residents to be overly alarmed. But it’s important for all the residents to be swabbed because MOH wants to make sure that the cases are contained,” he said.

“I hope the residents would take this calmly and comply with the instructions that they would have received from the MOH via SMS.”

Workers set up a COVID-19 testing area at Block 506 Hougang Avenue 8 on May 21, 2021. (Photo- Jeremy Long) -
Workers set up a COVID-19 testing area at Block 506 Hougang Avenue 8 on May 21, 2021. (Photo- Jeremy Long) –

Given that the block is “relatively large”, housing “about 116” four-room flats, Mr Giam said that the residents will be swabbed according to the levels they live on to “space out” the testing. 

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The Health Promotion Board (HPB) was facilitating operations, he added.

He urged residents to stay home after the swab test. He also gave assurances that the block had been “thoroughly disinfected”. 

“We did a wipe down of the entire block including all the high-touch surfaces on the ground floor,” he said, adding that another round of cleaning will be done.

MPs Pritam Singh and Gerald Giam speak to Ministry of Health officials at Block 506 Hougang Avenue 8 on May 21, 2021. (Photo- Jeremy Long)
MPs Pritam Singh and Gerald Giam speak to Ministry of Health officials at Block 506 Hougang Avenue 8 on May 21, 2021. (Photo- Jeremy Long)

Mr Giam was accompanied by fellow Aljunied MP Pritam Singh, who was seen speaking to residents. Mr Singh, who is also the Workers Party secretary-general, wrote about the swabbing operation on his Facebook page.

Residents from the lower floors will be tested on Friday while those on the upper levels will be tested on Saturday, he said. A “key concern” is that residents may go to the void deck once the swabbing starts, crowding the area, he said.

Aljunied-Hougang Town Council workers clean the lift lobby area of Block 506 Hougang Avenue 8 on May 21, 2021. (Photo- Jeremy Long)
Aljunied-Hougang Town Council workers clean the lift lobby area of Block 506 Hougang Avenue 8 on May 21, 2021. (Photo- Jeremy Long)

Mr Singh urged residents to stick to their assigned timings “so that the safe distancing ambassadors deployed at the block do not have a difficult time”.

“Residents of block 506, please do not hesitate to get in touch with the HPB team (excellent officers on the ground) or MP Gerald Giam if you have any queries/concerns,” he wrote. 

TESTING AT TAMPINES  BLOCK IN JUNE 2020

Testing of residents in an HDB block was similarly carried out in June last year, when contact tracers noticed that members in two households in the same block in Tampines tested positive for COVID-19 and flagged this for closer monitoring. 

Six residents in one household and two residents in another household had tested positive.

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Workers set up a COVID-19 testing area at Block 506 Hougang Avenue 8 on May 21, 2021. (Photo- Jeremy Long) -
Workers set up a COVID-19 testing area at Block 506 Hougang Avenue 8 on May 21, 2021. (Photo- Jeremy Long) –

As a precautionary measure, 58 households living in the same section of Block 111 Tampines Street 11 that are served by a common lift lobby and stairwell were “proactively identified”.

MOH placed the households under phone surveillance and facilitated voluntary COVID-19 testing for them and their visitors.

In an update on Jul 17, the ministry said that 152 residents and 25 visitors were contacted in relation to the Tampines block. Of them, 123 people took up the offer for testing and all of them tested negative, the ministry said.

Additional reporting by Kurt Ganapathy.

Source: CNA/ja

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