Public transport operator, SMRT, has confirmed that 3 of its staff have been diagnosed with tuberculosis (TB). All three diagnosed were from the Tanah Merah station in the East-West line. Two of the infected are train drivers, while the other is a crew member. SMRT said that they were diagnosed with the disease four to six weeks ago.
The Straits Times which reported the news said that two were found to have latent TB while the other was found to have active TB, which is contagious. The report did not specify if it was any of the the drivers or the crew member who diagnosed with the active strain. But it confirmed that the two latent cases are not linked to the active one.
Latent TB, which in noninfectious, can develop into active TB if left untreated. SMRT said that it has since screened all staff from the Tanah Merah station. It did not say how many people were screened, but results of the screening are expected to be out in the next few weeks.
SMRT further said that it has been actively working with relevant Government agencies to carry out contact tracing and that the process is ongoing.
A Health Ministry spokesman said: “The risk of transmission to persons who are not close contacts of a TB case – for example, through casual, brief contact – is very low. Screening is thus generally not necessary for commuters should public transport staff be infected.”
The newspaper quoted two infectious disease specialists who concurred that the risk of infection faced by commuters is likely to be low.
Last month the Ministry of Health announced that a multi-drug-resistant tuberculosis cluster was found among the residents who lived at Block 203 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 3. The Ministry arranged for the residents to be progressively screened from June 16. The majority of those screened tested negative for TB. But the screenings also revealed 2 others who were infected with the active TB strain.
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