Second case of pre-school teacher diagnosed with TB
Pre-school found out only when Ministry of Health called
She was new on the job at the pre-school and had tuberculosis (TB).
But she did not tell the school immediately. By the time the school found out, the trainee teacher had come into contact with about 30 students and five staff members, putting them at risk of contracting TB.
After being informed by the Ministry of Health (MOH) of her condition, the school decided to release her from her contract.
This is the second reported case of a pre-school teacher being diagnosed with TB this month.
Last week, The New Paper had reported that a teacher at Little Greenhouse pre-school in Bukit Batok had been diagnosed with TB.
At least 80 pre-schoolers had to be screened for the disease last Wednesday, and 24 more children were screened last Friday.
In the latest incident, a teacher at Bridges Montessori pre-school in Punggol was affected.
The principal of the pre-school, Ms Jen Chng, told TNP that the teacher had gone through training at the Montessori pre-school for two weeks before she started her teaching duties.
Ms Chng said the school hired the 29-year-old teacher from the Philippines sometime in July, and she was only there for a month.
"The school has taken action to terminate her. We believe that she withheld information from the school," said Ms Chng.
Ms Chng said the teacher had worked in Singapore before and had also worked elsewhere, like Dubai.
She added the school hired her after she cleared her medical check-up, which declared her medically fit.
However, they overlooked a clause in the report which stated the teacher might not be free from active TB.
It is not known why the teacher was certified medically fit despite the clause.
A senior teacher at the school, known as Ms Ria, who spoke to TNP with Ms Chng, admitted they had overlooked it.
"The report said that she was fit, so naturally we took it as that," she said.
"She also didn't show any symptoms of being ill."
The students at Bridges Montessori pre-school range from 1½ years old to about seven years old.
The teacher was also attending follow-up check-ups at the time because of complications with her X-ray.
Ms Chng said it was only when they received a call from the Ministry of Health (MOH) on Aug 12 informing them of the teacher's condition that they confronted her.
She said the teacher told them that she was given a medical certificate at one of the check-ups here by a doctor, who told her she had TB.
But she had not informed the school, Ms Chng said.
The school informed parents about the incident on Aug 13, and let the teacher go shortly after.
Ms Chng added: "We got MOH to come down and get tests done here.
"The screening was done on Tuesday (Aug 23), and results will be out soon."
Ms Irene Toh, the director of the pre-school, told TNP yesterday the results of the screening, released last Friday, were confidential, but that some children had tested positive for TB.
"Their parents shared with us that they came back positive, but these were latent," she said.
Ms Toh also clarified that the teacher was released from her contract by "mutual understanding".
"We can't terminate someone because they are sick," she said.
"She said she wanted to go home to be with her family for support."
Ms Toh said the teacher did not want to return to the school because "she would feel awkward, and she can't face the children and the parents".
She met the teacher on Aug 16 after being informed by MOH of her diagnosis.
"I was very concerned. She is a foreigner and alone here. I passed her some money to help with her finances because her flight ticket and medication are not cheap."
Ms Toh also said they are following directives from the authorities. Ms Chng told TNP last week that the school had taken the necessary actions, including sanitising the school.
But a parent of a child in the school, who contacted TNP about the incident, said she was not convinced, and was upset with how it was handled.
Declining to be named, she said: "I think there is a problem with protocol. It has now put so many kids and their families at risk.
"The school should have closed, at least until the screening is completed."
The Early Childhood Development Agency said there have been three reported cases of TB at childcare centres this year. (See report above.)
Caused by the bacteria mycobacterium tuberculosis, TB mostly affects the lungs. Symptoms include persistent coughing, fever and loss of weight and appetite.
Call them happy
Chen Diya (left) and Carrie Yeo of The Freshman. PHOTO: LIKES COMMUNICATIONS
Riding on the popularity of their latest hit, Mandopop duo The Freshman, made up of Project SuperStar 2 alumni Chen Diya and Carrie Yeo, released a "Singlish" version titled Call Me (Not Maybe) last week.
The Mandarin original, Remember To Ask Me Out When You're Free, was penned for local director Royston Tan's latest telemovie The Provision Shop, which premiered on Channel 8 last month.
The theme song was so well-received that even Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong shared and praised it on Facebook.
In a joint phone interview from Kuala Lumpur, where they were promoting their latest album Growing Up, Chen, 30, told TNP: "It was a very spontaneous decision to record a Singlish version. We were actually at Carrie's house signing autographs for our albums when we wrote the lyrics.
"A lot of people commented that they wanted an English version, so we decided to do it for fun."
It took the pair 1½ hours to complete the lyrics, and four takes of the live recording session and music video.
OUT OF LOVE
Chen said: "We took this opportunity to express our love for Singapore and we really did it out of love. We wanted to use this song to connect to people as well."
Yeo, 34, said: "It makes us very happy when people share the video and caption it with our lyrics."
And, yes, the title Call Me (Not Maybe) was inspired by Canadian singer Carly Rae Jepsen's 2011 monster hit Call Me Maybe.
Chen said: "It's meant to be a punny thing, we hope that young people will understand the reference."
The Freshman have felt overwhelmed, flattered, blessed and proud of the song, a "fun and casual" project that has ended up attracting more than 480,000 views and close to 10,000 shares on Facebook.
It has more than 14,000 views on YouTube.
Chen said: "It was crazy to see it go viral. We felt connected with the masses for the first time and the feeling is indescribable."
Yeo said: "We noticed a pretty significant climb (in likes) on our Facebook page after we posted the video."
It is also their first attempt at writing a patriotic song.
Chen joked: "We are not very opportunistic in the sense that we are not savvy enough to use social media for our own benefit.
"It has to be a natural thing, we must have the 'feel' to do it."
Olinda's family, friends in her new MV
Singapore Idol alumnus Olinda Cho has been known to wear her heart on her sleeve when it comes to her love for Singapore, but she is finally officially putting her patriotism into music.
She was approached by StarHub in June to help with the musical arrangement for the company's Majulah Moms music video after seeing her rendition of national anthem Majulah Singapura, which she posted on YouTube two years ago.
The 36-year-old was tasked to record her part and sing the original Majulah Singapura, as well as her own rendition.
These recordings were used as a guide for the 51 mums in the MV.
ALL SMILES: Singapore Idol alumnus Olinda Cho invited her friends and family to sing her original song, My Singapore. PHOTOS: YOUTUBE/OLINDA CHO
Cho, who is single, joked to TNP: "I wasn't in the video because I'm not a mum. I asked (StarHub) to put me in it, but they said, 'Oli, do you have a kid? If you have, then we can definitely put you in'."
Last week, she released her own original song titled My Singapore,for Singapore's 51st birthday.
It was written and composed by Cho and her younger brother Yu Wang, 31, and it has had more than 2,000 views on YouTube.
Cho said: "We originally wrote it for Singapore's 50th birthday, but I didn't want it to get lost among the 50,000 songs that everybody would be writing, so I waited and decided to keep it for this year.
"I wanted to make this present better by getting all my friends whom I've met along my musical journey, from (local reality TV singing competitions) Singapore Idol to Sing! China."
Featured vocals in the MV include Singapore Idol alumni Sylvester Sim and Daphne Khoo, former actress and host Jaime Teo, host Rebecca Tan and contestants from the Sing! China Singapore auditions Zhang Zhi Ling, Low Meiqi and Chang Wen.
Cho also invited her parents and relatives to chip in vocally, as she wanted them to represent the pioneer generation.
She gathered everyone to record the MV and vocals in the studio last Tuesday.
Cho said: "I don't know how else to thank my country. I am very proud to be a Singaporean."
Three TB cases at childcare centres this year
A spokesman for the Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA) said there were three reported cases of tuberculosis (TB) at child care centres this year, out of 1,300 child care centres in Singapore.
"Centres have generally been vigilant and have implemented the required measures to prevent the spread of TB," said the spokesman.
"Under the Child Care Centres Regulations, new staff need to undergo a chest X-ray and be certified to be free from active TB by a registered medical practitioner before they can start work in centres.
"Centres are also required to promptly inform parents and the ECDA on any suspected TB case."
The number of new active TB cases in Singapore has fluctuated from year to year, but within a stable range, according to a spokesman for the Ministry of Health. (See chart below.)
Said the spokesman: "TB transmission typically requires close and prolonged contact with an infectious individual. It is not spread by contact with items or surfaces touched by a person with TB."
She said those who are contacted and screened around an infectious TB individual usually comprise those with close interactions.
"There is no need for work places or other places where the active TB case has visited to be closed," said the spokesman.
She added that those with active TB also rapidly become non-infectious once treatment starts.
The disease then becomes latent, and is not uncommon.
It is estimated that up to 29 per cent of Singaporeans have latent TB infection (LTBI) and the prevalence of LTBI increases with age, said the spokesman.
She added: "Those with LTBI do not have symptoms of TB and do not spread TB to others."
The TB bacteria remains inactive in most healthy adults with LTBI, but they are also monitored and assessed by the Tuberculosis Control Unit.
There have been a number of other cases of tuberculosis (TB) that have been reported this year.
ANG MO KIO
It was revealed in June that six residents of Block 203, Ang Mo Kio Avenue 3, had contracted multidrug-resistant TB. The first of the six cases was diagnosed in Feb 2012, and the sixth in May this year.
It was reported that 223 residents and former residents of the block were later screened at a station set up by the Ministry of Health below the block. Two suspected cases of active TB were found, and another 45 were suspected cases of a latent form of the disease.
TANAH MERAH STATION
At least five cases of TB among SMRT staff working around Tanah Merah station were confirmed, with three of them being active TB cases.
It was reported this month that about 30 employees were screened, and 13 of them were suspected of having the disease.
PEACEHAVEN BEDOK DAY CENTRE
A female resident at the centre was diagnosed with active TB in June.
A total of 36 residents and centre staff were screened, but no other cases of active TB were found. Several were found to have latent TB.
LITTLE GREENHOUSE PRE-SCHOOL
A teacher at the pre-school in Bukit Batok was diagnosed with active TB this month.
More than 100 pre-schoolers had to be screened.