Raffles Medical investigates photo of patient's NRIC amid claims of Wuhan virus case at its clinic

Messages circulating on various social media platforms had claimed that the suspected case was detected at a Raffles clinic at Causeway Point.
PHOTO: The Straits Times

SINGAPORE - Raffles Medical Group (RMG) is investigating the source of a photo that shows the identity card of a patient who was allegedly a suspected Wuhan virus case and a letter from its clinic referring him to Tan Tock Seng Hospital.

Messages circulating on various platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and WhatsApp with the photo had claimed that the suspected case was detected at a Raffles clinic at Causeway Point in Woodlands on Monday afternoon (Jan 27).

The messages, whose origin is unknown, had warned Woodlands residents to avoid Causeway Point as a result of the suspected case.

The messages also claimed that the patient had visited another clinic at Woodlands Mart, a neighbourhood centre at Block 768, Woodlands Avenue 6..

When The Straits Times visited both clinics flagged in the posts on Tuesday morning (Jan 28), both were open for business and taking in patients.

Raffles Medical Group said on Tuesday afternoon (Jan 28) that it is aware of the online posts, but did not comment on whether the patient was suspected to have the Wuhan virus.

A spokesman said the company is currently investigating the source of the photo and message.

"While it is understandable that members of the public are anxious and wish to share information, we would like to advise members of the public not to speculate and/or spread unfounded rumours."

According to the picture posted online, the patient in question had received a referral letter from the clinic to go to Tan Tock Seng Hospital.

In the referral notes, the patient was described as having travelled to China from Jan 9 to Jan 17. His developed a cough, had mild breathlessness and other symptoms from Jan 15.

The spokesman said that healthcare providers are required to screen all patients visiting their premises.

"For patients who present flu-like symptoms and with travel history to China in the last 14 days, the Ministry of Health (MOH) will be informed and the patient will be sent for further assessment.

"This is part of the MOH's protocol in response to such situations."

The spokesman added that people who want to stay updated on the Wuhan coronavirus situation can visit its website or MOH's website for more details.

Visitors and workers at Causeway Point said they saw the message that was being circulated around, but were not too concerned at the moment. 

Student Iffah Adilah, 20, who was at Causeway Point for lunch, said she was aware of the message but did not see a need for concern yet. 

She said: “I saw the message circulating on Twitter, but at the moment I think it could be fake news. 

“If there’s official confirmation then I will worry about it.”

The Wuhan virus has reached Singapore's shores. What is the virus and how did it spread to people? https://str.sg/JcWM

Posted by The Straits Times on Thursday, January 23, 2020

Ms Josephine Yong, 49, a promoter at Cuckoo, an air purifier shop located about 20m away from the Raffles Medical clinic, was wearing a surgical mask when she reported for work. 

She said she has been wearing the mask for the past few days, even prior to receiving WhatsApp messages from her colleagues about the rumoured Wuhan virus patient on Tuesday morning.

Ms Yong said: “It is better to wear a mask to protect myself and protect other people.

“I think the rumours might affect my business. The restaurant beside is usually quite full at lunch time but today there are only two tables worth of customers.”

Separately, messages circulating online had also claimed that Woodlands Mart was closed for cleaning on Monday after a suspected case of the Wuhan virus was detected there. A security guard at Woodlands Mart told ST that he did not see anything out of the ordinary yesterday, and that the rumour was false.

But a staff member at the Central 24-HR Clinic at Woodlands Mart, which allegedly identified a patient suspected to have Wuhan virus, told ST the clinic was closed for cleaning and disinfected on Monday. She did not elaborate why.

ST has contacted the Central 24-HR Clinic group for comment.   

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