Two tuberculosis clusters linked to Singapore Pools' Bedok betting centre found

Voluntary screening for tuberculosis will be offered to former patrons who had spent prolonged durations at the Bedok betting centre to watch live horse-racing telecasts between 2018 and March 25, 2020. ― TODAY file pic
Voluntary screening for tuberculosis will be offered to former patrons who had spent prolonged durations at the Bedok betting centre to watch live horse-racing telecasts between 2018 and March 25, 2020. ― TODAY file pic

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SINGAPORE, Jan 21 — Two separate tuberculosis (TB) clusters involving a total of 18 people who had frequently visited the Singapore Pools' Bedok betting centre have been identified, the Ministry of Health (MoH) said yesterday.

The cases had immediately started treatment following diagnosis and are not a current ongoing public health risk, the ministry said in a press release, adding that the risk of transmission to persons who are not close contacts is very low.

“The two clusters were determined by genetic sequencing and epidemiological investigations, which concluded in January 2021, as part of retrospective testing of TB cases to determine linkages,” MoH said.

The 18 cases were diagnosed between February 2015 and October 2020.Five cases were diagnosed between July 2018 and February 2020.

The 13 cases in the second cluster were diagnosed between February 2015 and October 2020.

“Investigations into the cases did not reveal any common links, other than that they had all frequently visited the Singapore Pools' Bedok betting centre over a period ranging from months to years and spent prolonged durations at the centre watching live horse-racing telecasts.

The cases did not know each other, and had not identified each other as close contacts,” MOH said.

It added that as a precautionary measure, officers from the Singapore TB Elimination Programme will be contacting patrons who have visited the betting centre between February 12 and March 25, 2020 for free TB screening.

Officers from the programme had earlier initiated contact investigations upon notification of each of the cases.

Close contacts of all the 18 cases had already been identified and contacted by them for screening, MoH said.

Voluntary screening will also be offered to former patrons who had spent prolonged durations at the Bedok betting centre to watch live horse-racing telecasts between 2018 and March 25, 2020.

Patrons who wish to be screened may call the Tuberculosis Control Unit's hotline at 6258 4430.

In a statement yesterday, a Singapore Pools spokesperson said that since March 26 last year, when the circuit breaker measures for Covid-19 were implemented, Bedok betting centre has not held any live horse racing telecasts.

The centre has also since implemented preventive measures which include installing fans to improve airflow in the outlet and putting up Health Promotion Board posters on good hygiene practices.

“Our outlet staff have been reminded to look out for customers who may be in poor health, especially if they’re coughing, and to advise them to see a doctor,” the spokesperson said.

Singapore Pools is also looking to install Ultra Violet Germicidal Radiation machines at this outlet before it resumes live-betting operations in the coming months. ― TODAY

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