SINGAPORE - A total of 951 people - almost twice as many as an estimate on Tuesday - will need to be screened for the hepatitis C virus in the wake of an outbreak that has possibly killed at least four patients, Singapore General Hospital (SGH) said on Thursday night.
This includes both patients and healthcare workers.
In a statement sent at 10pm on Thursday, SGH said it is "proactively contacting" 678 patients who stayed in wards 64A and 67 from January to June this year.
Of the patients, 267 were admitted from January to March, while another 411 were from April to June.
Ward 64A is the hospital's renal ward, but was renovated from April to June. The patients were transferred to Ward 67 during the renovation period.
As of 6pm on Friday night, SGH said it has already contacted 646 patients, with 585 of them confirming their screening appointments.
To date, 186 patients have been screened, it said, with results to be out a week after the test.
A group of 273 healthcare workers will need to be screened too, it added.
Of this pool, SGH said it has already screened 202 of them, including doctors and nurses who had directly cared for renal patients, and other doctors who had covered the wards in the six-month period.
More than 180 patients who did not stay in the affected ward during the period called to enquire about the Hepatitis C cluster.
The Hospital reassured them and other visitors that they need not be screened as the Hepatitis C virus is not air-borne.
SGH had announced on Tuesday that 22 of its patients were infected with hepatitis C in an outbreak. All of them had been hospitalised for kidney problems between April and June.
Eight of them have died. Four of the deaths are linked to the viral infection, while three were due to unrelated causes. Another death is pending investigation.
On Tuesday, Professor Fong Kok Yong, chairman of SGH's medical board, said the hospital is screening 411 patients who had passed through the affected wards between January and June, as well as 42 doctors and 51 nurses who had cared for the affected patients.
He had said then that the hospital had looked through its records of all patients who had passed through the affected wards and had "identified 411 of them, whom we'll be calling back just to check".