2 more patients test positive for hep C

Singapore General Hospital.
Singapore General Hospital.PHOTO: ST FILE

Two more patients from Singapore General Hospital (SGH) have tested positive for hepatitis C.

The hospital is still studying if the latest cases are part of the same cluster that has infected 23 people so far. If so, it would bring the total number of those infected from the same cluster to 25.

In a statement last night, SGH said two more patients out of the 601 screened so far have tested positive for the hepatitis C virus. "However, genotyping and phylogenetic studies are still being carried out to determine if the patients are part of the affected cluster," said SGH.

The patients and their families have been informed.

SGH will arrange for appointments with hepatologists to advise them on treatment options.

Both patients are doing well, said SGH's medical board chairman Fong Kok Yong.

"While we are still in the process of determining whether they are part of the cluster, our priority is to ensure that the patients can access timely and appropriate medical care," he said.

Out of the 601 screened, 543 have tested negative for the virus. One patient tested positive for the virus on Wednesday, and the remaining 55 results are pending.

SGH had contacted patients who had stayed in wards 64A and 67 from January to June for screening, after it announced on Oct 6 that 22 kidney patients had contracted hepatitis C while receiving treatment at the hospital.

Eight have died, with five of the deaths possibly linked to the infection.

SGH said in the same statement that one of the patients it had contacted has died in a palliative care setting owing to advanced cancer.

The hospital has ruled out hepatitis C as a contributing cause based on the patient's medical history.

SGH added that a total of 309 staff have been screened, of which 305 results tested negative. The remaining four results are pending.

An independent review committee has been set up to investigate the spread of the hepatitis C virus in the hospital. Earlier this week, two international experts were invited to the committee to provide advice on analyses, interpretation and report of findings.

SGH also filed a police report on Tuesday in order to rule out any possibility of foul play.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 24, 2015, with the headline '2 more patients test positive for hep C'. Print Edition | Subscribe