SINGAPORE: The Ministry of Health (MOH) issued an update on the tuberculosis (TB) screenings it carried out last month at Jalan Bukit Merah. Over four-fifths of the people screened tested negative for TB, while only two people have been diagnosed with active TB.

On its website on Thursday (Feb 8), MOH said that 2,548 people had been screened for TB. Among them, 2,158 persons (84.7 per cent) tested negative and did not require follow-up action; 322 persons (12.6 per cent) were diagnosed with latent TB infection, and two persons (0.1 per cent) diagnosed with active TB disease are infectious.

Latent TB infection is non-infectious, and individuals diagnosed with it will be offered preventive treatment to reduce their risk of developing active TB disease in the future.

The two people who were diagnosed with active TB have since begun treatment, and after the two weeks it takes to complete the course, they will be non-infectious, MOM wrote, adding that another 66 individuals (2.6 per cent) need further evaluation and have been advised to monitor for symptoms until their test results are out.

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MOH announced on Jan 5 that it would be conducting the screenings from Jan 11 to 15 at  Blocks 1 and 3 Jalan Bukit Merah, ABC Brickworks Market and Food Centre, and Thong Kheng Seniors Activity Centre @ Queenstown at Block 3 Jalan Bukit Merah.

From May to August 2022, a cluster of seven TB cases had been detected that was linked to Block 2 Jalan Bukit Merah, which led to an onsite screening at the time, and the patients were treated for the condition.

The screenings MOH conducted were a “precautionary measure, to protect residents living in the area by identifying any undetected active TB disease cases, and prevent further transmission as far as possible.”

From Jan 25 to 27, MOH also performed on-site chest X-ray screenings to assess persons who tested positive on the initial blood test.

The ministry noted that the rate of TB cases detected among those screened exercise is lower than in the general population.

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“This indicates that these individuals, as casual visitors to the area and ABC Brickworks Market and Food Centre, did not have a higher risk of getting infected with TB.

MOH has therefore assessed that there is no need to further expand screening,” it wrote, adding that it will continue to engage with the few individuals who have not completed their mandatory screening and arrange for them to be screened at the TB Control Unit (TBCU). /TISG

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