The Wuhan travelers had a family gathering where they infected people who went on to attend church services.
Thanks to the efforts of Singaporean doctors and police investigators, the perplexing mega cluster of Covid-19 involving the Grace Assembly of God Church (that was responsible for 23 cases so far) and other clusters have been linked–all tracing back to two travelers from Wuhan for the Chinese New Year back in January.
So how did the the mega cluster from Grace Assembly happen?
According to a bulletin from the Ministry of Health, the Grace Assembly of God infections were traced to a previous Life Church and Missions gathering on January 19 and a Chinese New Year gathering on January 25.
Cases 83 and 91 attended meetings linked to the Life church and Missions that involved cases 8 and 9 already in Singapore at the time. The former cases then infected case 66 at a Chinese New Year gathering at Mei Hwan Drive.
Case 66 was a 28-year-old Singaporean with no previous travel to Wuhan. A statement from the Ministry of Health said, ” To determine how Case 66 had been infected, we investigated the locations he had visited, and people he had close contact with. We found that Case 66 had attended a Chinese New Year gathering at Mei Hwan Drive on 25 January.
“Cases 83 and 91 had also attended the same gathering. Hence there is a possible link between the cluster at Grace Assembly of God and the Chinese New Year gathering at Mei Hwan Drive.”
Case 66 then attended services and meetings at Grace Assembly of Life Church on January 29, where they infected church staff. The same case also attended services on February 9, which further infected other members of the church.
How did they solve the Singapore mega cluster mystery?
The researchers at Duke-National University of Singapore (Duke-NUS) Medical school used a new type of test that identified the presence of Covid-19 antibodies instead of the actual virus to determine infections. This was to help them see even people who had recovered from the disease.
Using the test and methodical investigtions involving interviews and contact tracing, people from the Ministry of Health and the Singapore Police Force were able to identify that Case 66 (who showed the earliest signs of infection in the Grace Assembly of God cluster) was in a Chinese New Year dinner involving people exposed to direct Wuhan travelers.
Cases 8 and 9 came directly from Wuhan to celebrate the Chinese New Year in Singapore. They went on to infect people in The Life Church and Missions cluster, and people at the Mei Hwan dinner gathering.
Lee Hsien Loong posts about the discovery
Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong took to Facebook to address Singaporeans about how these large clusters of infections arose.
He shared the report by Channel News Asia which published the statement of the Ministry of Health.
He commended the teams working on identifying the sources of infection in the country, and commended them for “a job well done!”
He also said, “For now, the best thing we can all do is to continue practising good hygiene, and be socially responsible — do not go to gatherings if you are feeling unwell. Together, we can beat the coronavirus.”
Similar circumstances to hotpot restaurant in Hong Kong
Hotpot restaurants in Hong Kong felt the brunt of a confirmed family cluster of infections during Chinese New Year celebrations.
Restaurants all over Hong Kong including big name brands like Yoshinoya pulled the item from their menu when at least ten people were infected with the Wuhan coronavirus after sharing a steamboat with a Wuhan traveler.
Singapore continues to reiterate that people should avoid gatherings during this time, especially if they are sick.
Header image from Grace Assembly of God Facebook page.