10 migrant workers probed for possible reinfection as COVID-19 reemerges in Westlite Woodlands dorm

The Westlite Woodlands dormitory. Photo: Terence Cheng/Facebook
The Westlite Woodlands dormitory. Photo: Terence Cheng/Facebook

A new wave of coronavirus infections is emerging among Singapore’s migrant workers, and health officials are trying to figure out if it’s their second time.

Eleven workers, including 10 who were previously infected, have tested positive for COVID-19 at the Westlite Woodlands dormitory, according to the Manpower Ministry today, two weeks after an Indian port worker staying at a dorm in Brani Terminal Avenue was confirmed to have been infected. 

The cases detected at Westlite Woodlands stemmed from a 35-year-old Bangladeshi worker who was confirmed to have the disease during routine tests Tuesday despite having completed a second vaccination dose. One of his close contacts was his roommate, according to the Manpower Ministry, prompting mass testing at the dormitory that found the coronavirus among 10 workers who already had COVID-19 antibodies in them.  

The 10 workers confirmed with the infection yesterday morning were taken to the National Centre for Infectious Diseases. Both the Health and Manpower Ministries said they were investigating them for possible reinfection. None of the new cases was included in yesterday’s daily COVID-19 count of 15 cases involving individuals from abroad and one local infection. 

The Bangladeshi worker, who is a construction supervisor at the Prosper Environmental and Engineering firm and worked at the Sembcorp Marine Admiralty Yard, had his second dose of the vaccine on April 13. The Health Ministry said Tuesday that the infection was likely because his body had yet to build up immunity. Although it wasn’t specified whether he had received the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, each requires about two weeks following the second dose to achieve full effect.

Local media reported that he had been staying at Block A at Westlite Woodlands and that all residents from that block would be taken to a separate quarantine facility. Over 500 swab tests were also conducted Tuesday on the more than 1,100 residents living there, reports added. 

Just two weeks ago, a 23-year-old port worker from India tested positive for COVID-19, two months after being fully vaccinated.  He was staying at the dormitory in Brani Terminal Avenue. All of his close contacts and residents at his dorms were cleared of the virus by authorities. 

The reemergence of the coronavirus in the migrant worker population comes a year after it exploded across Singapore’s worker dormitories. More than 54,000 such cases have been since the outbreak began. 

Westlite Woodlands recorded its first COVID-19 case in April 2020, which precipitated a cluster of infections. The cluster was declared closed by the Health Ministry in October after no new cases were found for close to a month.

Other recently detected infections include workers from Papua New Guinea, a National University of Singapore employee, and a 43-year-old man from India, who was believed to be reinfected with COVID-19.

The country has reported 60,880 COVID-19 cases and 30 deaths to date.

Correction: The 35-year-old Bangladeshi worker tested positive on Tuesday, April 20.

Other stories you should check out:

Singapore couple charged with leaking classified education plans for pandemic

New COVID-19 cluster emerges in Singapore involving Papua New Guinea workers

Those who had COVID-19 at risk of developing blood clots: Singapore scientists

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