TB screening for 3,000 people in Jalan Bukit Merah as 10 new cases surface, Latest Singapore News - The New Paper

TB screening for 3,000 people in Jalan Bukit Merah as 10 new cases surface

Ten new tuberculosis cases have been discovered to be part of a Jalan Bukit Merah cluster that first surfaced in 2022. This has prompted the Health Ministry to start a mass screening exercise from Jan 11 to 15 to identify any undetected active cases and prevent further transmission.

An estimated 3,000 individuals, including current residents and workers at Blocks 1 and 3 Jalan Bukit Merah, workers at ABC Brickworks Market and Food Centre as well as the clients and staff of the senior activity centre at Block 3, will undergo TB screening, in what is the biggest mandatory TB screening exercise to date, said MOH on Jan 6.

The 10 additional active TB cases are genetically linked to the previously announced cluster of seven cases at Block 2 Jalan Bukit Merah in 2022, it said. In total, the cluster now has 28 cases, including four at blocks 1 and 3 that surfaced afterwards and seven that were picked up during the mass screening exercise that was held after the cluster of seven was identified.

The new screening effort is a risk mitigation exercise, in an effort to bring rates of TB down further in Singapore, said an MOH spokesman. The disease is endemic worldwide.

“Because we have detected these new cases, as a precaution we are conducting both mandatory and voluntary screening so we can reduce any further risk,” he said.

The 10 cases  surfaced between February 2022 and July 2023. Of the 10, two live in Block 1, one lives in Block 2, one works at the market and six reported frequent visits to the market and food centre but do not live in Jalan Bukit Merah.

MOH said these individuals started their treatment upon diagnosis and are no longer infectious, as active TB disease rapidly becomes non-infectious once treatment starts.

It is also offering voluntary screening to a few groups of people. The first group comprises frequent visitors of ABC Brickworks Market and Food Centre or the three blocks at Jalan Bukit Merah. They are the ones who had spent more than 12 hours a month there, anytime between Nov 21 and Jan 24.

The rest are those who are living and working at Block 2 but did not undergo TB screening during the previous mass screening exercise in 2022, former residents and tenants of Block 1 and 3, and the pre-school teachers and pupils at Block 3.

MOH said that screening is not necessary for those who had only occasionally visited the blocks, market and food centre or the area because the risk of transmission to persons who are not close contacts of a TB case is low.

From Jan 6 - 9, staff from MOH and National Centre for Infectious Disease, with support from the People’s Association, will be visiting all units at the affected blocks and stalls at the ABC Brickworks Market and Food Centre to engage residents and stallholders and answer any questions that they may have.

Ministry of HealthNCIDINFECTIOUS DISEASESHealthcare