45 buses ferrying up to 600 COVID-19 patients from hospitals, dorms to community care facilities daily
SINGAPORE: Forty-five buses are moving about 400 to 600 COVID-19 patients from hospitals and migrant worker dormitories to community care facilities (CCF) each day, the Ministry of Health (MOH) said on Thursday (May 14).
The fleet will be expanded to 60 buses in the coming weeks and had grown from 40 since May 5, reflecting the growing requirements in this logistical task.
CCFs are for COVID-19 patients who are clinically well and no longer require acute care, and newly-confirmed cases with mild symptoms who do not require extensive medical treatment.
These facilities, located at D'Resort, Singapore Expo and Changi Exhibition Centre, are part of a broader strategy to ensure Singapore has sufficient healthcare capacity to deal with the pandemic.
Singapore has been reporting hundreds of new COVID-19 cases each day, majority of whom are migrant workers living in dormitories.
"All these bus drivers are trained in the proper use of personal protective equipment and required decontamination procedures of the buses to ensure the safety of passengers and driver," an MOH spokesperson said.
The buses are arranged by MOH and various agencies, including the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) and Singapore Civil Defence Force. The buses are contracted from Lentor Ambulance and other commercial operators.
"The Medical Operations Task Force, which is supported by SAF and other agencies, prioritises and oversees the operations for transporting cases between medical facilities in the dormitories, hospitals and the community facilities," MOH said.
Out of the 45 buses, five are from public transport operator SMRT.
SMRT announced on Tuesday that 20 of its buses have been retrofitted to help with the mass transfer of COVID-19 patients between hospitals, migrant worker dorms and the various community care and recovery facilities.
The buses can take more than 30 passengers each time and contain an airtight partition separating the driver and passengers to reduce the risk of transmission.
"The rest of SMRT’s retrofitted buses will be progressively deployed over the coming weeks to join the current fleet in transporting patients," MOH said.