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15% of beds in acute public sector hospitals currently used for COVID-19 patients: MOH

15% of beds in acute public sector hospitals currently used for COVID-19 patients: MOH

Staff members and pedestrians are seen outside Tan Tock Seng Hospital in Singapore on Apr 30, 2021. (File photo: Calvin Oh)

SINGAPORE: About 15 per cent of beds in Singapore's acute public sector hospitals are currently being used for COVID-19 patients, said the Ministry of Health (MOH) on Wednesday (Sep 29). 

In response to queries from CNA last week, MOH also said that a total of 130 acute public hospital staff and patients tested positive for the virus during a 14-day period from Sep 9. 

The patients that tested positive had earlier been admitted for non-COVID-19 conditions. 

This two-week period was just before all visits to hospital wards were suspended for four weeks from Sep 24, following the detection of COVID-19 cases among staff, patients and visitors. 

These cases led to ward closures and staff quarantine, putting a strain on hospital bed capacity and staffing. 

MOH said in its reply that the affected hospital staff included both clinical as well as support ancillary staff. In the same period, there were also seven ward closures across six acute public hospitals.

The Health Ministry added that fewer than 1 per cent of all staff members in public hospitals were placed on leave of absence, stay-home notice, quarantine order or health risk warning for the period of Sep 13 to Sep 19. 

"To mitigate the impact on staffing due to infected staff, hospitals have cross-deployed staff from other areas within the hospital," said the ministry. 

"This is done in strict adherence to infection control measures including the donning of appropriate personal protective equipment."

MOH added that all patient-facing staff are also enrolled in frequent surveillance testing to detect any infection early and prevent transmission in the hospitals.

"Our hospitals continue to provide services to the public and to care for patients with COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 medical conditions," it said. 

Earlier this month, Health Minister Ong Ye Kung said that accident and emergency (A&E) departments and general wards in Singapore's hospitals were coming "under pressure"

Three public hospitals also warned of longer wait times at their respective A&E departments as more people were seeking medical attention amid the rise in COVID-19 cases.

Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH), Khoo Teck Puat Hospital (KTPH) and the National University Hospital (NUH) urged members of the public to visit general practitioners or polyclinics if their condition was not an emergency. 

Singapore on Wednesday reported 2,268 new cases of COVID-19 and eight deaths. The country has reported a total of 94,043 COVID-19 cases since the start of the pandemic, with 93 fatalities. 

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Source: CNA/ad(zl)


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