image of Experience of a Tertiary Hospital in Singapore with Management of a Dual Outbreak of COVID-19 and Dengue
  • ISSN: 0002-9637
  • E-ISSN: 1476-1645


During the COVID-19 pandemic, distinguishing dengue from cases of COVID-19 in endemic areas can be difficult. In a tertiary hospital contending with COVID-19 during a dengue epidemic, a triage strategy of routine COVID-19 testing for febrile patients with viral prodromes was used. All febrile patients with viral prodromes and no epidemiologic risk for COVID-19 were first admitted to a designated ward for COVID-19 testing, where enhanced personal protective equipment was used by healthcare workers until COVID-19 was ruled out. From January to May 2020, 11,086 admissions were screened for COVID-19; 868 cases of COVID-19 were diagnosed in our institution, along with 380 cases of dengue. Only 8.5% (943/11,086) of suspected COVID-19 cases were concurrently tested for dengue serology due to a compatible overlapping clinical syndrome, and dengue was established as an alternative diagnosis in 2% (207/10,218) of suspected COVID-19 cases that tested negative. There were eight COVID-19 cases with likely false-positive dengue serology and one probable COVID-19/dengue coinfection. From April to May 2020, 251 admissions presenting as viral prodromes with no respiratory symptoms were screened; of those, 15 cases had COVID-19, and 2/15 had false-positive dengue IgM. Epidemiology investigations showed no healthcare-associated transmission. In a dengue epidemic season coinciding with a COVID-19 pandemic, dengue was established as an alternative diagnosis in a minority of COVID-19 suspects, likely due to early availability of basic diagnostics. Routine screening of patients with viral prodromes during a dual outbreak of COVID-19 and dengue enabled containment of COVID-19 cases masquerading as dengue with false-positive IgM.

[open-access] This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY) License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.


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  • Received : 19 Jun 2020
  • Accepted : 17 Sep 2020
  • Published online : 28 Sep 2020
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