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Hospitals in S'pore staying vigilant following possible TTSH Covid-19 cluster

SINGAPORE – As a possible Covid-19 cluster emerged at Tan Tock Seng Hospital on Wednesday (April 28), other hospitals here said they are staying vigilant as they continue with strict infection control and visitor policies as well as safe management measures, in keeping with the Ministry of Health’s guidelines.

Many hospitals here currently allow each patient to have up to eight visitors a day, with only two visitors allowed to come to the ward at any one time. At public hospitals, children 12 years old and under are not allowed to visit.

A nurse who works at TTSH’s Ward 9D, a general ward, was diagnosed with Covid-19 on Tuesday. Another eight patients and staff linked to the nurse have been diagnosed, and they were detected from proactive testing of patients and staff in the affected ward.

Farrer Park Hospital said it will continue to monitor the situation while sticking to strict infection-control measures for staff, visitors and patients.

“Staff with fever, breathlessness or flu-like symptoms are to seek immediate medical attention at the nearest Public Health Preparedness Clinic or Farrer Park Hospital’s Emergency Clinic,” said the hospital.

A Mount Alvernia Hospital spokesman said: “We stand guided and take instructions from MOH if there are any updates to guidelines or policies.”

Infection control measures extend beyond the wards as well.

Farrer Park Hospital added: “All employees are required to mask up at all times, even when they are at their desk. They are also encouraged to go for lunch breaks individually to minimise risks of any possible transmission.”

The majority of staff at hospitals here have also been fully vaccinated, they told The Straits Times.

Eighty-five per cent of eligible staff from the hospitals under IHH Healthcare Singapore – which includes Gleneagles Hospital and Parkway East Hospital – have received the Covid-19 vaccine earlier this year, said Dr Prem Kumar Nair, chief executive of the healthcare provider.

There are currently fewer than 10 Covid-19 patients warded at hospitals under IHH Healthcare Singapore.

At Farrer Park Hospital, about 93 per cent of the hospital staff have been fully vaccinated with both doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

The nurse from TTSH who is infected has been vaccinated as well. Although the Covid-19 vaccine is effective in preventing symptomatic disease for the vast majority of those vaccinated, it is still possible for a small number of vaccinated individuals to become infected.

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Farrer Park Hospital also added that safe distancing measures in the hospital’s lifts, which have been in place since the pandemic started, was removed earlier this week.

This is in line with the Building Construction Authority’s advisory last October that the Government will not apply the 1m distancing in lifts in order to reduce the risk of overcrowding in lift lobbies.

The hospital said it continues to ensure that its lifts and lift lobbies are stocked with hand sanitiser.

A dedicated group of nurses and doctors is on standby to attend to Covid-19 patients, it added. They are to be wearing full personal protective equipment at all times, and regularly monitor their health and take down their vitals.

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