15 new Zika cases confirmed
Zika outbreak: 56 confirmed cases with more people being referred to the CDC for further testing.
The tally now stands at 56.
Previously 41, the number of confirmed cases of locally transmitted Zika virus infections continues to increase.
In a joint statement from the Ministry of Health (MOH) and the National Environment Agency (NEA), it was revealed that 15 more cases of locally transmitted Zika virus infection had been confirmed as of noon yesterday.
Out of the 15, two were workers from the Sims Urban Oasis condominium construction site. The other 13 were from the Sims Drive and Aljunied Crescent area.
The statement also said that all the workers at the construction site with previous symptoms have since been tested.
Vector control operations have also resulted in 36 mosquito breeding habitats - 22 of which were found in homes - being detected and destroyed.
On Sunday, it was reported that 37 of the 41 cases were linked to the construction site at 60 Sims Drive.
Yesterday, there were also at least nine new suspected cases of Zika reported by two clinics in the Sims Drive area.
It is not known if any of these cases were later tested positive as part of the latest 15.
Dr Lim Chien Chuan, a general practitioner at Sims Drive Medical Clinic, referred five cases to the Communicable Diseases Centre (CDC) yesterday morning.
The patients from Sims Drive Medical Clinic included foreign workers, and were taken to the CDC for further testing by ambulance after they had their blood and urine samples taken at the clinic.
Chinese evening daily Lianhe Wanbao reported that three of the patients developed rashes just yesterday morning.
PHOTO: SHIN MIN DAILY NEWS
One of them, a 54-year-old housewife known only as Madam He (above), said she woke up with rashes, red eyes and numb fingers.
Although she had no fever and did not feel unwell, she visited the doctor.
BLOOD, URINE TEST
She said she went through a blood and urine sample test at the clinic, and the doctor said there was a 70 per cent chance she was infected.
Dr Lim was one of three doctors at the clinic who raised the alarm that led to the discovery of the first locally transmitted Zika case.
Describing how the initial infection was discovered, he said they sensed something was unusual following a spike in cases with similar symptoms.
"There was an increased number of cases with rashes, fever and joint pains in the last two weeks," he said.
"We tested them for everything, dengue, measles, rubella, but they all came back negative."
That was when they contacted MOH for help.
After contacting the authorities on Aug 22, the CDC stepped in.
"A guideline was issued, and effective today, we can send patients to be tested for Zika," Dr Lim told The New Paper yesterday.
"Most of them have low-grade fever, and a rash that becomes itchy by the second and third day, joint pains, and some of them have conjunctivitis," he said.
"For most of them, the symptoms are very mild."
He also said that about five other patients had previously agreed to go to the CDC for testing, but could not reveal when.
"But this does not translate to them physically going. They only agreed to," he said.
Across the road at Sims Place, Dr Tan Thai Keng, a general practitioner at TJ Medical and Surgery, referred four cases to the CDC yesterday.
Dr Tan, who saw the patients, said they were all local adults and showed symptoms of fever, rash and joint pain.
He also said there was one pregnant woman who requested to take a blood sample despite not showing any of the symptoms because she was worried.
"We have all been on the lookout today," he told TNP yesterday.
"People should be careful, especially girls. But males also should be careful."
Residents and businesses in the area said they were aware of Zika, but had different reactions.
Mr Lim Heng Foo, a 77-year-old retiree, said he did not think the virus was here to stay.
"I'm not worried, because right now it's only the construction site side that's heavily affected," he said.
"I also know the symptoms, so if I get them I'll just see a doctor. I don't think people will panic, because it's not as serious as it seems."
A 50-year-old worker at an aquarium, who wanted to be known only as Mr Seah, said business has been slightly affected.
"I'm scared, of course, but I still have to work," he said.
A salesman at a motorcycle shop who wanted to be known only as Mr Ng, 55, said he too was going to continue working.
Mr Ng said: "I've already sprayed a lot of repellent, and it should be okay now that the authorities have stepped in.
"Normal life has to go on."
Dr Lim said there was no need to panic, but the public should be on the lookout.
"People need not worry, but if they have symptoms, they should seek medical help as early as possible," he said.
"With the appropriate vector controls in place, this can be contained."
As for being one of the three doctors who brought the infection to light, he said it was just part of his job.
"It is just our duty. I'm sure any other doctor would've done the same," he said.