SINGAPORE: There will be a real-time tracking system for all staff members, visitors and patients at the National Centre for Infectious Diseases (NCID) by the end of this year, to make contact tracing easier in a disease outbreak, announced the NCID on Thursday (Sep 5).
The Real-Time Location System (RTLS) monitors the movements of an individual in the NCID with a tag, logging in the people that they have come into contact with while on the premises.
Individuals are considered to have come into contact when their tags detect that they are within two metres of each other for five minutes or more.
This system tracks the precise movements of people, while in the past, the centre was only able to track the entry and exit points of visitors and staff members to the hospital and patient rooms.
“Currently for us (to do) contact tracing, we have to utilise multiple methods, including patients interviewing … trawling through some of the medical records to pull the information together
“(RTLS) will allow us to be able to accurately identify the movement of the individuals,” said NCID’s executive director Professor Leo Yee Sin.
Other than tracking the contact among people, the RTLS can also monitor the hand hygiene of staff members and locate equipment like beds and wheelchairs in the NCID.
In cases of outbreak, staff members will be able to easily recall equipment for use, the centre said.
Pressure sensors are placed under hand sanitisers and soap dispensers to ensure that staff members complete the hand hygiene procedure.
If staff members do not complete the procedure before interacting with a patient, their tag will beep until the procedure is finished.
MONKEYPOX CASE DIAGNOSED IN 24 HOURS
The NCID, which opened officially on Saturday, has already handled a highly publicised case of monkeypox in Singapore. The centre, which has been operational since November last year, currently has about 930 staff members.
It replaces the Communicable Disease Centre, which was established in 1907.
The 14-storey building is equipped to handle 330 patients, although this number could rise to 500 “when there is a surge required”, said Prof Leo.
It is meant to manage outbreaks “similar to the scale of SARS”, NCID said in a press release.
NCID has specific containment facilities such as the High Level Isolation Unit to contain suspected or confirmed patients with highly infectious diseases, negative pressure wards which prevent airborne spread of disease, and a self-contained lock-down system that can be applied to individual wards, floors, wings or even the whole building when needed.
It has also brought together clinical, public health, training, research and community outreach functions under one roof.
“This integrated approach has already shown its value in protecting Singapore from infectious diseases, as seen in the recent case of monkeypox in Singapore, “ said Health Minister Gan Kim Yong, who opened the centre.
This made possible the diagnosis of the patient’s monkeypox within 24 hours of his arrival at the NCID, he said.
Additionally, the NCID will house the new National HIV Programme and the National Tuberculosis Programme, which was previously under Tan Tock Seng Hospital.
Part of a cluster of hospitals and healthcare facilities in Novena, NCID is adjacent to the Ng Teng Fong Centre for Healthcare Innovation. Together, both buildings cost about S$940 million to build.