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Coronavirus: First patient in Singapore discharged, some given anti-HIV drugs, says MOH

Coronavirus: First patient in Singapore discharged, some given anti-HIV drugs, says MOH
The 35-year-old Chinese national who tested positive for the coronavirus earlier but has since recovered was discharged from the National Centre for Infectious Diseases yesterday.
PHOTO: The Straits Times

A man from Wuhan, China, who previously tested positive for the coronavirus has since recovered and was discharged from the National Centre for Infectious Diseases (NCID) yesterday, the Ministry of Health (MOH) has said.

Another patient could be discharged in the next few days, the ministry's director of medical services Kenneth Mak told a press conference yesterday.

The patient discharged yesterday is a 35-year-old Chinese national who arrived in Singapore on Jan 23 and stayed at Marina Bay Sands.

He developed symptoms the next day and was later warded at the NCID. He tested positive for the virus on Jan 27 and became the seventh case to be confirmed here. He is the first to be discharged.

"The patient was discharged well. All symptoms had fully resolved and he had tests over three consecutive days that were all negative," Associate Professor Mak said.

"We're quite confident that he's no longer got any infection."

Prof Mak noted that there are a number of other patients who have the virus but are well, including at least three who are not showing any symptoms. Many continue to make good progress, he added.

Two of the patients without symptoms were among the six new confirmed cases announced yesterday. There were 24 confirmed cases in Singapore as of last night.

Prof Mak said five patients required oxygen and breathing support, but added that this is "not surprising", given that they had pneumonia.

"None of the patients are in the intensive care unit and none are critically ill at this point in time," he said.


MOH's chief health scientist Tan Chorh Chuan, who was also at the press conference yesterday, said a "small number" of coronavirus patients in Singapore have been treated with a combination of antiretroviral drugs, namely lopinavir and ritonavir.

The drug cocktail is usually used to treat patients with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) that causes Aids. It is unclear if the patient who was discharged yesterday was given the drugs.

Professor Tan said clinical trials are under way in China to test the efficacy of the drugs in treating patients with the new coronavirus.

On Sunday, Thailand's health ministry said Thai doctors who gave the drugs to coronavirus patients have reported promising initial results.

"We are waiting to see how the trials are proceeding and we hope, in the weeks ahead, we will have some indication," Prof Tan said.

"In the meantime, among the different drugs that have been tested, these agents appear to be effective, but we can't be certain at the moment. They appear promising and the trials will help us understand how effective they can be."

This article was first published in The Straits Times. Permission required for reproduction.

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