MOH Concludes Bukit Merah Tuberculosis Screening; No Need to Expand Screening

The mandatory Tuberculosis (TB) screening exercise in Bukit Merah from 11 to 15 January 2024 has concluded.

Of the 2,548 individuals screened, about 84.7% (2,158 people) tested negative for TB. 322 people were diagnosed with latent TB infection and two people were diagnosed with active TB disease.

No Need to Expand Screening

TB screening was mandatory for residents and workers of 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.

Voluntary screening was also offered to frequent visitors to the Blocks 1, 2, and 3 Jalan Bukit Merah and ABC Brickworks Market and Food Centre.

You can watch this video for more information:

The rate of TB cases detected amongst those who participated voluntarily in the screening exercise was lower than in the general population, indicating that 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.

About Tuberculosis (TB)

TB is an air-borne disease that mainly affects the lungs. Some symptoms include persistent coughing, fever, weight loss, loss of appetite, and fatigue.

Fortunately, TB does not spread as easily as COVID-19. Prolonged exposure to a person with active TB disease is usually required.

And we’re not talking about just hours, we’re talking about days or even weeks.

As such, it’s perfectly fine to go to the ABC Brickworks Market to enjoy your usual hawker food when there was a cluster there.

In fact, some ministers have visited the market to show it is safe as hawkers there reported slower business following the TB cases.

Minister Grace Fu, as well as other officials from the Ministry of Sustainability and the Environment (MSE), visited the food centre for lunch on 12 January 2024.

Health Minister Ong Ye Kung visited the food centre on 14 January 2024 for dinner.

In his Facebook post, Minister Ong Ye Kung confirmed that it requires days or weeks of exposure before one gets infected with TB.

Unlike other infectious diseases, tuberculosis has a long latent period and may not develop into disease for months or even years later. It’s possible that those infected with the TB bacteria may not even become sick from it at all.

Only those diagnosed with active TB are infectious. Latent TB infection is non-infectious and those infected with it cannot spread the disease to others.

MOH noted that tuberculosis is endemic in Singapore.