Singapore clinics prepare for potential surge in COVID-19 cases, as more travellers from China arrive
Doctors are however not too concerned about the imported cases they have seen so far, and believe their clinics are well-equipped to handle any possible surge.
SINGAPORE: Clinics in Singapore are gearing up to handle a potential surge in COVID-19 cases, as infected travellers from China may potentially arrive amid rising cases there.
One clinic, Unihealth, said it has seen nearly 10 per cent more cases compared to last week.
The chain’s busiest branch at Jurong West has been handling about 20 COVID-19 cases a week. In recent days, some of the patients have been travellers from China or their close contacts.
“We've seen some patients who have family members returned from China, and they have contracted COVID-19 as well,” said Dr Xie Huizhuang, the clinic’s medical director.
“But in the grand scheme of things, the numbers, it's not too significant at least at this stage,” she said.
On Jan 8, China lifted quarantine requirements and travel curbs, ending three years of a strict zero-COVID policy. It also started processing travel documents such as passports and visas for citizens, after discouraging non-essential outbound travel since the pandemic began.
China’s abrupt relaxation of tough restrictions under its zero-COVID policy has led to the coronavirus sweeping across the country, with some estimates suggesting millions are being infected daily.
Despite the COVID-19 situation in China, several travel platforms in the country have reported a rise in the number of bookings. Some of the top overseas destinations booked include Thailand, South Korea and Singapore.
NO CAUSE FOR ALARM
Dr Xie said that COVID-19 cases may rise if travel loads pick up.
However, Singapore is in a strong position to handle such a situation due to its high vaccination rate and immunity from past infections, she said.
Phoenix Medical is also expecting more cases, but its medical director Dr Chua Hshan Cher noted that there is no cause for alarm.
“If we use the previous experiences as a gauge of what the likelihood is going to be, I expect there would be a surge in the number of cases,” he said.
“Because this is really, literally a big market of potentially, tourists or travellers coming from a country that has only now started to experience a surge in the number of COVID cases.”
The medical group is preparing its employees to manage a higher patient load, in anticipation of a likely surge in the weeks ahead.
Dr Chua said: “But even then, I am not expecting to see cases that are far sicker or any different from what we have seen over the last six months.”
OneCare Medical is taking a similar approach, and has been stocking up on medication and personal protective equipment.
There are staff on standby in preparation for such events, said Dr Kenneth Koh, medical director at OneCare Medical.
“The staff have also had the experience of dealing with previous surges. So that's actually more important - having protocols to reactivate mitigation measures, to help cope with these surges.”
As the Chinese New Year nears and with people expected to gather in large groups, doctors urged the public to be socially responsible and maintain personal hygiene to limit the spread of viruses.