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Processes at COVID-19 community care facilities under review after several healthcare workers test positive

Processes at COVID-19 community care facilities under review after several healthcare workers test positive

A man is seen by healthcare workers at Westlite Toh Guan dormitory, as the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues, in Singapore April 7, 2020. Picture taken April 7, 2020. Ministry of Manpower Singapore/Handout via REUTERS

SINGAPORE: Processes and measures taken at COVID-19 community care and recovery facilities will be reviewed, after several cases of healthcare workers and volunteers being infected.

Four people who worked at the Singapore Expo community care facility have tested positive for the coronavirus as of Thursday (May 7). They include a radiographer, two nurses and a healthcare volunteer. 

Two quarantine officers who served at various foreign worker dormitories have also contracted COVID-19.

Authorities are looking into how transmission occurred - whether they were infected by patients or by interaction with other staff members.

"With a better understanding of how transmission happens, that will allow us to decide what measures we need to put in place," said Minister of Health Gan Kim Yong on Friday at a press conference by the COVID-19 multi-ministry task force.

In the meantime, authorities are reviewing operations to see if there are still gaps in infection control measures. 

"We're also taking this opportunity to remind all the workers on the ground, including healthcare workers as well as non-healthcare workers ... to also remind them and to refresh their knowledge on infection control," said Mr Gan.

READ: COVID-19 testing started for 16,000 nursing home residents, 9,000 staff already tested with 1 positive case

MOH's director of medical services Kenneth Mak said authorities are also "particularly concerned" for healthcare workers involved in supporting migrant workers in the dormitories as well as those in care and recovery facilities.

To make sure they are properly protected and following safety protocols, MOH will work with the interagency task force at dormitories to provide “refresher training” if needed, said Associate Professor Mak.

“During this period when the dormitory are locked down, and we want to make sure that (the healthcare workers) were properly trained in the use of their personal protective equipment … and that they were obeying and respecting the infection control measures that they were supposed to obey,” he added.

READ: ‘Don’t rush to go out’ after businesses reopen, COVID-19 circuit breaker to ease gradually: Lawrence Wong

There is also “some level of process improvement” taking place, such as the use of physical barrier and enhancing physical distancing, said Assoc Prof Mak.

He stressed that while healthcare workers may be disciplined in protecting themselves while at work, they must be equally vigilant and practice safe distancing during the times when they are off the clock or on their breaks. 

“We are continuing to work to improve our processes, continuing to exercise vigilance working with the people on the ground … to protect all staff (and) make sure that they are all compliant with the measures designed to protect them,” he said.

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Source: CNA/rp(gs)


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