Forum: Sufficient paediatric capacity available

We thank Mr Yeo Kim Boon for his letter "Ensure paediatric facilities have enough resources to cope with Covid-19 cases" (Nov 10).

While there have been more cases of Covid-19 infections among children, most were asymptomatic or had mild symptoms and have recovered at home. Among those hospitalised, the majority recovered quickly without requiring oxygen therapy or intensive care.

KK Women's and Children's Hospital (KKH) and National University Hospital (NUH) are the two public hospitals with paediatric beds as well as healthcare professionals trained in providing specialised care for sick children. They operate a total of 32 paediatric intensive care unit (PICU) beds, with non-Covid-19 cases taking up between one-third and two-thirds occupancy on average.

There are 21 paediatric ICU specialists of different seniority and about 160 PICU trained nurses at KKH and NUH to provide paediatric intensive care.

Should the need arise, the number of PICU beds can be ramped up progressively for Covid-19 cases.

KKH and NUH also conduct regular skills upgrading and refresher training to equip their healthcare teams with PICU skills.

Adopting mask wearing, personal hygiene practices such as hand washing with soap and water, and safe management measures will be crucial to protecting a child from Covid-19 infection.

The Expert Committee on Covid-19 Vaccination is also studying the use of the Pfizer-BioNTech/Comirnaty vaccine for children aged five to 11 in Singapore. If approved, this could form an additional measure to protect children from Covid-19.

Lee Heow Yong (Dr)

Director, Hospital Services

Ministry of Health

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